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What is a Response Journal?

Journals provide learners with an opportunity to record their personal thoughts, emotions, ideas, questions, reflections, connections, and new learning on what they hear, view, read, write, discuss and think.

“What we as educators want is that their writing enable students to personalize a story and gain insights about the character, to help them reflect, and to help them see the world in a different way.” (Brownlie, 2005)

“Our reflections are the making of deeper meaning and richer understandings. Our reflections are our dreams, our ideas, our questions, our initiatives, our visions – our journeys of lifelong learning and teaching.” (Schwartz & Bone, 1995)

Why are Response Journals an effective reading strategy?

Response journals allow the students to “remember to hold on to their thinking” about what they are reading. (Zimmermann, 1997)

Response journals are easily implemented at all levels. They can be used to target specific outcomes of the Provincial ELA Curriculum.

Response journals can be used with any genre of literature (poetry, short stories, media text, novel studies) and in different content areas that use expository text.

When should Response Journals be introduced?

Response journals should be introduced as soon as possible using scaffolding such as sentence frames or prompts to start. The goal should be to have students enter the middle years feeling comfortable with recording their responses to reading with little or no scaffolding.

How can I ensure student success?

Choose poetry, stories or books with enough depth to elicit responses. Students should have the opportunity to discuss the reading before ever being asked to write a response. Use of the “Say Something” strategy (Brownlie, 2005) creates an atmosphere of acceptance and trust. Modeling, scaffolding, building criteria with students and practice with feedback are the most important tools for improving the quality of...
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