Response Journals record student feelings, responses, and reactions to reading texts. This active learning strategy encourages students to think deeply about the materials they read and to relate this information to their prior knowledge and experiences. This interaction between reader and text extends the reading experience into the "real life" application of information.
Response Journals allow students to reflect on and raise questions about a text. These journals are especially valuable for promoting opinion making, value judgments, and critical thinking.
Steps to Response Journals:
Explain the functions of the response journal to students. Stress that the journal is personala place to express ideas, feelings, questions, and opinions. Point out that there are no "right answers" in response journals. Successful journals capture high-quality student-text interaction.
Provide a model journal for students. Make sure that this model includes observations, questions, critical judgments, opinions, and feelings. Explain that while all of these are appropriate, students should be able to distinguish opinion from observation and critical judgment from feelings.
Provide journal sheets or booklets with prompting questions that will help structure student responses. Encourage students to record as many observations as they can.
From time to time, organize the class into small groups and allow students to share their journal responses with their peers. Stress again the functions of the journal and the fact that there are no "right" or "wrong" answers.
Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.