Purpose of Daily Response to Literature Lessons and Academic Reading Journals: Student Response to Literature
Frequent writing about what you have read can develop and expand comprehension and vocabulary.
Expressing important ideas in writing helps the student organize ideas and strengthens connections to vocabulary.
Well-taught writing can help students' reading, Poorly taught writing can hinder students' reading
My students use response to literature journals daily during close reading instruction and Socratic inquiry. It begins with teaching students to select quality/challenging non-fiction, fiction, poetry, prose, or any well-written literature suitable for analysis. Next, we examine author’s purpose, literary elements, poetic devices or any other ELA domain through a collaborative Socratic inquiry process.
By the end of the first 20 days of my Title I 4th grade class, students are often completing two full pages of responses for each selected close reading passage and Socratic seminar. The goal at this point is to have completed literary responses that are rich, exact, with cogent connections to the explicit stated goal of the literary response. Students are constantly instructed on how to work collaboratively, and build interdependent and independent work skills. All instruction is integrate with a Finnish model of instruction the to build a classroom team that can succeed and exceed. The reading process and the writing process must be taught as one, “One is none and two is one!” The ultimate goal is for students to become motivated, independent learners, exactly the type of students we want them to be.
Part two in this process includes revising, drafting, and editing each of the literary responses. The students collaborate with peers in an informal read aloud to a partner and the sharing of pre-edited responses. The students give each other feedback and as always when something is read aloud they find errors. The teacher can participate as a listening only letting the student read their response out loud and giving verbal feedback. Rereading editing and rereading gives students more freedom to try new things without the fear of failure. Using a sounding board model builds collaboration and can usually find structural errors and quality issues in a more formative learning environment. Students can review the author's main ideas, important facts, character development, settings, events, and turning points in the fear free writing zone.
Quick formative conferences, or spot checks, can be used at any time to check student’s on-task behavior, collaboration, understanding and accountability. Teachers or cooperative teams can do quick conferences to insure students comprehend the passage, vocabulary, important facts, literary devices, author’s ideas/purpose, main ideas, important outcomes/turning points, characters, settings, events, and even enjoyment. Students who show poor reading skills, collaborative skills, focus, and or comprehension of the literature are placed with a competent student, teacher, tutor or classroom parent. Students are asked to cooperate, collaborate and develop critical academic skills like taking quality notes, developing cogent questions, comprehending the literature they read, talking with peers using complete sentences, discussing academic ideas with the class, and as a teacher I am always looking for role models that demonstrate these skills to praise in front of the class. Students who fail to find the success are reinstructed one-on-one in an extended conference and are ask to model expected outcomes with other strong students.
Value of Response to Literature Lessons | Read and Response Journaling
Journaling as you read is the most effective way of understanding a work of literature and strengthening understanding of the writing process at the same time. With journaling you integrate reading and writing, and you will find that you can relate to the story more completely, and experience every image, every conversation, every character, and every interesting adventure. Avoid hasty reading or skimming because it can prevent you from understanding the meaning of the book as a whole. Investigate everything fully; be prepared to learn and be inspired. Never skip a word you don’t know. Stop! Write it down! Seek the meaning! If you do skip the meaning, you are leaving a great treasure behind. Seek those characteristics that skilled writers observe in real life and integrate them into your journals, essays, letters and reports: perseverance, conflict, justice, injustice, challenge, courage, character, adversity, and apprehension. Engaging writing includes exciting precise vocabulary, captivating dialogue, well organized plot, varied complex sentences, and grammatically refined prose with fresh original ideas. When you discover the deeper meaning and relate it to the content, you'll be on your way to understanding and loving books. Using great works of literature to examine, and compare and contrast with your own writing, will build knowledge of how to write great passages and prose yourself.
Keep a response journal (homework journal) for all study areas, including art, music, science, social studies, and even field trips. Write your feelings, first impressions, funny moments, jokes, sketches, relationships, questions, quotations, and great topic sentences-anything that helps you start to look at professional writing structure. Learn to truly read and then learn to truly write.
Writing about reading makes students more conscious of making meaning as readers. It gives them insight into the reading and writing processes. Writing about reading accelerates, reinforces, and streamlines vocabulary acquisition and retention. Writing about reading makes struggling students more secure
Writing about reading gives students ideas for their own texts. They reread and reflect upon their writing, which sparks fuller learning. Writing about reading supports students to take charge of their learning and make connections between different areas of learning. Seeing teachers and parents write in their own reading journals and sharing their writing reinforces the vital importance of writing for life-long learning. It also emphasizes the public nature of writing. Journal coaching supports the students as they reach for
more complexity in their reading and writing. Journal coaching supports the students as they acquire the vocabulary and background knowledge to truly understand and enjoy the reading.