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September 6, 2009 Added Bonus- Writing a Reader's Response Journal Entry By Victoria Jasztal

    Picture showing a post-it note pointing to a quote in Rules by Cynthia Lord

    I will be posting this Wednesday about peace, anti-bullying, Pinwheels for Peace, and September 11, 2001. However, I wanted to alert you first to an awesome lesson I am teaching my fourth graders in small groups this week as we approach the third week of school- Writing a Reader's Response Journal Entry (using post-its).

    My fourth graders have not used post-its to document their reading before, so this will be a new concept for them. They perhaps have also not kept journals when it comes to their independent reading choices, yet now it is going to be a requirement for them. I adopted response journals three years ago in my classroom (after reading Mosaic of Thought and becoming a "Crazed Mosaic Maniac", and this is the first year students will be writing in them regularly about their books of choice. Often, students of mine have read a TIME for Kids magazine entry and respond to that or take their side on a debate, yet this is something that will be more personal to them and help them to emerge in their writing beyond summarizing.

    When I read my students' journal entries last week from home (without telling them exact guidelines yet), basically all I saw was summarizing. Predictions were not being made. They were not making inferences or using quotations/actions to support their thoughts. Sometimes, characters were not even mentioned. Of course, this wasn't terrible because my students did not know how to write an effective journal entry. That is probably what they have done in the past with book summaries of sorts. This week, though, I am going to show my students how they can use post-its to monitor as they read and not just think after they have stopped reading.

    Here are some guidelines I will share with my students this week in small groups as I ask them about their book choices so far-

    Make connections (text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-world) to-
    -Your own life. (t-s)
    -The world’s events or issues (t-w)
    -Things that happened in your neighborhood or school (t-w, t-s)
    -Similar events, characters or settings you have read in a book (t-t)
    -History (t-w)
    -Other people and problems (t-w)
    -Other writing by the same author or on the same topic (t-t)

    Be sure to include: What you are reminded of and why it reminded you of it

    Jot down questions that come to your mind as you read. Sometimes questions refer to predictions. Ask questions to yourself before, during and after reading. Try to ask yourself “open”, thick questions.

    From what you have read most recently, make a prediction about what will happen next. What are the reasons for your predictions? When you go on and read, did things happen like you expected, or was it different?

    What do you see in your mind because of what you have read? Explain perhaps what you could see, hear, smell, feel, or taste. You can make a sketch with a caption.

    Summarizing (Determining Important Ideas)
    Obviously, share what has happened in your story so far/recently. Share information about events, characters and setting. See how characters “talk” and act. What do you believe is the theme of the story?

    Is the author trying to get a certain point across? Which parts of the story are amazing? Which parts would you write differently if you were the author? Critique the author.

    This was reworded from something I read on the Mosaic of Thought Listserv, which can easily be searched in Google. It is hosted by, which I HIGHLY recommend. Here are some pictures of the post-it notes I will be showing my students as I work with them this coming week-

    IMG_3285  IMG_3287

    I then will show how I used these post-its in writing a journal entry. This is my entry-

    I am reading Rules by Cynthia Lord and just started the book. Before reading it, though, I looked at the back cover. Twelve-year old Catherine has a younger brother named David who is autistic and makes lots of mistakes. She makes up rules for him to follow.

    The beginning starts where they in a way are having an argument. It seems like every day at 5:00, David wants to go to the video store. He always has to touch a lot of the boxes and read whether they are G, PG, PG-13, R, etc. The whole store hears this. Catherine seems to feel embarrassed by all of this. Whenever her dad invites her to come, she says “No, thanks.”

    David repeats things, and everything has to be JUST on time. David is routine-oriented.

    It is obvious on page 5 that Catherine wants someone to move in who can be a friend (especially during the summer when her best friend is not around), perhaps because she is lonely. It is obvious, too, that she wishes she had a brother she could laugh with and relate to. On page 6, she said, “Sometimes everyone gets invited except us, and it’s because of David.” She also mentioned a familiar look that she gets often, the look that wonders what is “wrong” with David.

    David has lots of rules. He seems to remember them, and sometimes at the wrong times. All the rules seem to be things people should already know, but she needs to remind him often because he is autistic. Based on what I read, I think sometime in the story David will be embarrassing, but perhaps Catherine will come to relate to her brother more. I see a fish and a rubber duck on the outer cover, but I don’t know why, so maybe I’ll find in the book where the cover relates to the story.

    I chose Rules to write about because it is a type of story that encourages text-to-world and text-to-self connections. Perhaps they have known someone in this situation. When I was young, I had a friend who was autistic. Or, perhaps they have been embarrassed about something before- maybe their little brother or sister was embarrassing in the store.

    Additionally, my students have not read the book, and I do not want to journal about No Talking by Andrew Clements because I have shared the book in class the past two weeks and I want my students to think about something I have never shown them. Besides that, this is my first time reading this book, and I am "going through the process" just like they are.

    I wanted to share this before we come back on Tuesday because maybe it will encourage you to discuss "thinking while you read" with your students. I don't want students to just think AFTER they have read- it is not natural to just think afterward, despite what they may believe about thinking. I desire them to show their thinking before and during reading just as much, if not more.

    ...Again, I mentioned Wednesday's entry is going to be about a plethora of ideas revolving around peace. I am excited to think about the entry because our school is going to launch our anti-bullying program this week and September 11th is approaching. My students were only a year or perhaps two years old when it occurred, so they do not remember it. We are going to complete a number of activities this week, so stay tuned!


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