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Responding to Reading: Double-Entry Journals* Freebie!

One interesting way to use reader’s notebooks is a double-entry journal. In a double-entry journal, you have a two-column page. On the top of the left side is a quote that is directly lifted from the text. On the top right, respond to the line of text. Monitor your thinking and explain how you reacted to the quote.

To use double-entry journals with your kids, be sure to model, model, model. If you pause and open up your brain for your kids enough, they can start to think in the complex way you’re modeling. Here’s a little script you might use for a double-entry journal.

1. Choose a book you will honestly react to. I love anything by Eve Bunting, but I’m generally in tears by the end of the book, so maybe stick to Patricia Polacco.
2. Read a part of the book and stop after a line that meant something to you.
3. Say: “This line is very powerful. I think I’m going to stop and think about it.”
4. Record the quote on the left side.
5. Model thinking aloud on the quote. You may use the following as starters:
– I am surprised/shocked/saddened/excited because…
– This makes me think of….
– This reminds me of another book I read where…
– I chose this quote because…
– Because of this, I think ___ will happen because…
– I wonder…

This is a double entry written by one of my fourth graders when we read Esperanza Rising.

A few tips for double-entry journals:
1. Don’t kill it. Any strategy, when overused, gets pretty boring pretty fast. Choose some great texts to use this strategy with, periodically; not every time kids read!
2. Read the responses! You’ll be surprised how interesting they are, and how much they tell you about your kids.
3. Model, model, and then model some more. Children don’t just pick up new strategies like this. We need to give them opportunities to try it out together.
4. Talk it out. If kids are having trouble getting started writing on their own, have them talk to a partner about their thinking, or make a class-wide dialogue entry together.
5. Use sentence starters to help kids (and yourself) think. A sample anchor chart is included on this post about monitoring comprehension!

Try it out and let me know how it goes!
And for more ideas, check out “Responding to Reading,” a freebie on TPT!

Or my new Scaffolded Reading Responses for Fiction!

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