Checking in on students’ understanding of text can be tricky when you have to check in on 20+ kids. Let’s be honest, 10+ kids can be a challenge. You ask questions, get an idea of who understands, and you think you know. Then it’s report card time and you only have memories and you’re wishing you had this information all in one place. Well, you can! Reading response journals just might be the answer.
Reading response journals are journals that give your students an opportunity to respond to questions about a story or show an understanding of a particular strategy or skill. For example, after reading a story students show their understanding of the characters or plot of a story. The best part about these journals is students can respond to reading response questions in writing or they can draw pictures to show understanding.
Keep reading to get 5 ideas for integrating reading response journals in your classroom.
We all do, or try to do, the daily read aloud in class and what better way to get kids thinking about text than to complete a reading response prompt after hearing a story? As you’re reading focus on a question, skill, or strategy. Preface the lesson by stating what students should be looking for. For example, Today I am going to read Strictly No Elephants. While I am reading, I want you to think about the problem the character is having. After reading the book, discuss the problem the character had. Then send students off to write about the problem in their journals or to complete a reading response worksheet.
How many times have you had kids work in the listening center and there wasn’t a lot of listening going on? Holding students accountable for their time at the listening center is pretty easy with a journal. Your students listen to a story using Epic or any other resource you have and then they’re assigned a response topic. Provide your students with a timer to make them aware of how much time they have in the center. You’ll want to leave them enough time to work on their response journal.
Guided reading is a great time to use reading response journal prompts. After your students engage in a session of guided reading with you, have them write about the story they read. End the lesson by saying something like, “We read _____ today. Now I want you to record the setting of the story in your journal.”
Talking about reading is a great way to build reading comprehension. Provide reading response sentence starters to sets of students, so they can use them in their discussions. Give students the opportunity to talk about read alouds, listening center books, guided reading books, books read together, or books they have read independently. After discussing the story with each other and using the language from the sentence starters, have students record the information in their reading response journals.
Finally, let kids practice responding to reading on their own. They can be assigned a prompt or they can just write about what they read. Either way writing about reading is a great skill for kids to practice. Not only are they practicing comprehension, but they’re working on writing. Be sure to have kids share with others because talking about reading is so beneficial.
You can get your Reading Response prompts here.
Writing about reading encourages students to stop and think about what they have read. Making this a habit will increase their comprehension and will provide evidence for you to refer to when you need to assess your students’ comprehension. Reading response journals are the perfect way to keep all of this information in one place.
If your looking for activities for those early finishers, check out 6 Writing Activities for Early Finishers.