Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Academic Reading Journals | Response to Literature

Daily Response to Literature Lessons and Academic Reading Journals: Student Response to Literature

1. Daily response to literature practice helps support and scaffold
the lowest quartile students as they learn challenging reading concepts and writing skills. 
2. Response to Literature accelerates the student’s acquisition of the critical reading concepts, encourages attentive and close reading, exposure to tier 1, 2, and 3 vocabularies, enhances reading comprehension, and develops higher order of thinking and effective questioning skills. 
3. Journaling with a nonjudgmental writing coach deepens understanding of the writing processes and removes apprehension. 

4. Response to Literature lessons accelerates the student’s acquisition/understanding of the Six Traits of Writing, develops academic communication skills that are critical for transitioning to the new college and career standards.

Response to Literature or academic journaling is an essential instructional tool. I use Response to Literature or reading journals to 1) encourage a life-long love of reading and writing; 2 ) teach the structures and strategies of close reading, the close writing process "Response to Literature" and Socratic seminar/inquiry; 3) teach students to be academic risk-takers, motivated learners, virtuous thinkers, curious questioners, academically responsible and interdependent learners; 4) accelerate the acquisition of the Response to Literature process; and 5) turn students great potential into real academic writing achievement.

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

Response to literature Process for Intermediate Students Abstract
My students use a 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. Reading and writing instruction, in my opinion, should be used to build critical and strategic thinking and is always taught holistically in my class. We move into the complex task/skill of responding to a set of literary criterion “The TEST” that may be as simple as predicting the next set of events, adding or continuing the authors ideas, analytical summarization or analysis of complex literary elements. The students work with a partner or as a whole class to develop strategic graphic organizers, summarizing important facts, evaluating characters' opinions, identifying turning points, compare or contrast, evaluating the author's points of view, identifying author’s main ideas, noting key literary details, and choosing pertinent quotations. All the reading and writing instruction is focused through the lens of formative inquiry and enrichment to reinforce critical thinking, reading comprehension and the writing process. 

Part one is creating the Response to literature Journals or reading journals: The Reading Journals consists of close reading strategies, graphic organizers, interesting or important vocabulary, important sequential details, or Socratic questions that students want to ask during the weekly teacher conference. Tier 2 words are also listed and identified plus ten to fifteen detailed notes on the key literary elements are recorded for each response to literature by each student using Cornell Notes. Students then summarize the main ideas, authors’ purpose or other literary areas that are being analyzed. The use of the Six Traits Rubrics, Socratic seminar, cooperative structures and strategies and traditional paragraph structure instruction are modeled throughout the process. Response to literature can best be taught using a collaborative or cooperative learning model. Evaluation of author's main purpose or any other complex concept must be modeled and modeled in a collaborative format. The younger students always start with the basics of who, what, where, when, why and how! More advanced students create literary topics of discussion to share with student colleagues and teacher during the Socratic seminar. Advanced students may work independently and do additional analysis, critiques, margin notes, re-imagining a new literary ending, character summaries, connections they have made between other genres, books or poems.

Students conference with the teacher weekly and use their reading journals as an ongoing learning portfolio and as a collaborative tool with other students. The weekly conferences and journals are also used to ensure that students are accountable, participating/collaborating and completing learning task and comprehending the assigned readings. An extended conference is scheduled as needed to support students who are not making gains in the close reading and “close” writing processes. Throughout this process, students are always given suggestions on how to improve their close reading skills, reading comprehension, modeled response to literature strategies, cooperative writing opportunities and improve their critical and strategic thinking.

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 explicitly 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 integrated 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 of 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 give 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.

Formative Conferences
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 ensure 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.

Teachable Moments
Unknown vocabulary and important background information is explained to the entire class in detail to ensure deeper meaning and understanding. Students are asked to never erase notes, responses, summaries, but to salvage what they have and use the margins for new ideas. The final part of the response to literature process is looking for teachable moments that the class can use to extended learning and critical thinking.

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 key 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.

Homework Journals
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 and comfortable to write with the support of the author’s vocabulary and paragraphs. Writing about reading makes students more independent, competent, motivated, and involved in all forms of academic text.

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. 

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