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I do response journals
Old 07-12-2007, 01:03 PM

My students are supposed to read for 20 minutes, then write a short summary, predictions, feelings etc about what they read. It was like pulling teeth to get this out of some kids, but I think its important. I made sure there was absolutely no excuse to not have it done.

1. The 5 entries were due each week on the same day. No guessing about when its due.

2. Once a week, read/respond was a center. On 3 other days, students chould read during lit circle time (if their group wasn't meeting).

3. Students could respond to their lit circle book that they were reading, full length articles in TIme for Kids and other things they were reading anyway. I would set out books on topics we were learning about accross the curriculum for kids to choose from each week (not to leave the room)

4. If we read a story in class together, they could respond to that.

So, if a kids made any kind of effort and used their time appropriately, they probably wouldn't have to do any outside reading at all. Parents didn't give me any problem with it.

I saw a lot of sloppy work, but you know what... a 5th grader should be able to do this. They get to pick any book on their level to respond to.... so nobody can say that the books are too hard. NO EXCUSE! I counted it as a classwork grade. I made a bulletin board out of it... anyone who only missed ONE week all quarter (or didn't miss any) got their name on a star on the board. Class rosters w/ check marks were posted for all to see each week.

I do think its important. They look for main ideas when they read and show you that they can comprehend. Summarizing is an important skill.. predicting... Its a really good indicator for motivation and effort, too.. its so easy and individualized, no excuses, class time provided...

I didn't find that it took too long to grade either. I usually handed them back the same day they handed them in. I would get a couple done before announcements in the morning, a few here and there during the day... most were back to their owners by the end of the day.

I didn't require parent signature. I can tell a bogus entry when I see one... and I saw plenty of them.

I like some of the suggestions here... ending the day (even if only once or twice a week) with quiet reading/responding/conferences sounds like a good way to go.

I am finding more and more each year that you can't really expect the kids to get much of anything done at home. I'd say at least 50% of the kids in my class were this way this year.

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