READING TO LEARN JOURNAL: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Readers HOW to Comprehend Text Strategically
The Strategic Thinking Journal is a valuable tool to help young readers capture and organize their thoughts about the text under study and to show in writing that they are thinking strategically while reading. I developed the journal to provide both direct and indirect comprehension instruction for any narrative text. Through very visual graphics and “at-a-glance” lists and charts, the journal keeps the key comprehension strategies in the foreground. It defines terms and helps show how each component of the journal connects to a key comprehension strategy, and how each strategy moves the student toward the goal of better understanding the text. By practicing using all of these metacognitive strategies and reading skills on a regular basis, rather than learned and practiced in isolation, students are more likely to internalize them and make them part of their reading schema.
Journals allow readers to reflect and respond to literature in the following ways:
- Synthesize and summarize key points worth knowing, remembering, and retelling
- Analyze, evaluate, and respond emotionally to the author’s words
- Draw on background knowledge and curiosity to evoke deep and real questions
- Seek especially important words in the text worth noticing and understanding
- Record connections through inferences, images, and developments in the plot
- Predict future story events and actions using text evidence
- Consider the literary language and identify noteworthy "golden lines"
- Create mental images to draw or sketch impressions and ideas
- Design graphic illustrations to organize big ideas and important concepts
- Self-Evaluate preparation and quality work
“The idea behind explicit instruction of text comprehension is that comprehension can be improved by teaching students to use specific cognitive strategies or to reason strategically when they encounter barriers to comprehension when reading.” (National Reading Panel, 200, p. 4-3)