This guide to reading response reaction journals based on quote analysis and close reading will get your students reading, analyzing, and writing about literature on their own. I have been teaching with reading logs for eleven years, and this guide includes what you need to teach your students to think independently without having to read and grade every single thing they write.
The Reading Log Guide includes:
--an introduction to using reading logs in your classroom
--two differentiated step-by-step printable handouts for students
--a simple but complete rubric for grading logs
--suggestions for grading student work without burning out
--student samples with analysis
--printable student samples for your students to grade and discuss
--everything that you need to implement reading logs in your classes tomorrow
I use the term reading log to refer to short informal pieces of writing that my students complete on a weekly basis. I could have called them reaction papers, but I want kids to dig deeper than just reacting. I could have called them reading journals, but I don’t want to suggest any kind of personal diary writing here. I definitely don’t want them to be called essays or papers, as they are super informal and that’s what I love about them. So I have settled on the term reading log.
In many ways, reading logs are the most important things that my students write. They are places for them to explore a text, whether it is one that we are reading together or one that they are working on independently, and they are great ways for students to practice close reading and thinking for themselves. Since my main goal with these logs is to empower students to find their own ideas in a text, I never give them prompts or topics to discuss. Instead, I give them concrete steps to follow that push them to work through a challenging poem, story, essay, or novel (and then I encourage them to drop those steps as soon as they feel ready).
When you see the progress that your students make in their writing and critical thinking skills, and when you see them gain the confidence to tackle challenging passages on their own, you’ll love reading logs as much as I do.