So halfway through the year last year, I changed the way my class does journals. Instead of using the various books of writing prompts I'd found -- but which were difficult to simplify while keeping a variety of topics -- I switched to a This Day In History type of thing, prompted by finding this website in one of our district's 4th grade social studies books.
The best thing is that even if I repeat a question, the event that prompted the question is different, so I don't feel quite so bad about asking what someone's favorite TV show is over and over. ;-)
Anyhow, I've been slowly working on adapting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and making the first groups of journals for the coming school year.
And aside from a few interesting things -- and one, of course, very interesting and notorious thing -- very little interesting happened in the month of September. One of the journal prompts is actually that there was an earthquake in Mexico City.
By the way -- the reason I chose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the first book is so that I can do one of the pre-adapted books later in the year when I'm more stressed and burned out. ;-) It's going well...I'm about a third done -- I haven't done anything but type the chapters (I haven't done any of the questions or sequencing yet) because I don't quite know how the class's academic abilities will sort themselves out. So I'll probably only do a few days' worth, and then adjust up or down as necessary.