Double-Entry Journals by f8Q3iC


									Double-Entry Journals
What Is It?

Students can use a double-entry journal to help them study concepts or vocabulary, express
opinions, justify an opinion using text, and understand or respond to the text they are reading.
The double-entry journal is a two-column journal. In the left column, students write a piece of
information from the text, such as a quotation or a concept, which students want to expand upon,
understand better, or question. In the right column, students relate to or analyze the information
that is written in the left column. For example, the student could title the left column "Quotes" and
the right column "Reflections." In this instance, the student would copy quotes from the text in the
left column and reflect upon what they mean in the right column.

Below is an example of how a language arts teacher who is teaching Walden, by Henry David
Thoreau, could use a double-entry journal.

Double-Entry Journal for Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Quotations                                      Reflections
                                                I think that you can go though your whole life asleep
"To be awake is to be alive." (from the
                                                if you don't stop and think about what you're doing.
chapter "Where I Lived and What I Lived
                                                It's important to make conscious choices, especially
                                                when you're my age.
"I should not talk so much about myself if      I disagree with what Thoreau says here. I think that
there were anybody else whom I knew as          you can know another person as well as you know
well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this by   yourself. I know my best friend as well as I know
the narrowness of my experience." (from         myself. Sometimes, I don't think I know myself well
the chapter "Economy")                          at all.
                                                Sometimes it is difficult to tell the truth because you
                                                don't want to hurt a person's feelings or because it's
"Say what you have to say, not what you
                                                hard for you to admit something. It was hard for me
ought. Any truth is better than make-
                                                to tell my dad that I didn't want to go to the same
believe." (from the Conclusion)
                                                college he did, but I was glad that I told him

Why Is It Important?

Double-entry journals give students a way to interact personally with the text, by reflecting on and
writing about their understanding of the material they are reading. Students can use the text to
form an opinion and then use pieces of text to support their opinions. Students process the
information and relate to the text, increasing reading comprehension.

Research by Marzano (1988) emphasizes the importance of metacognition and student learning.
By writing about what they are thinking, students show their thinking process as they read,
allowing teachers to redirect or encourage students to be more effective readers.

How Can You Make It Happen?

Double-entry journals can be used effectively for expression or for more concrete purposes. For
example, if students are reading material in class that they can personally react to, then they can
use the double-entry journal to express their feelings and opinions about the material. On the
other hand, students may need to learn specific information such as new vocabulary words or
historical events. In this instance, students can use the double-entry journal as a study guide for
the book they are reading in class.

Distribute a blank double-entry journal to students or show them how to create one in their
notebooks. Have students draw a line down the center of a piece of paper to make two columns.
Model the use of a double-entry journal with the class by displaying one on the board. First, show
students how to use the double-entry journal in an expressive way. Think about a topic students
can respond to personally. For example, music, in the left column write some interesting lines
from a popular song. Brainstorm with students thoughts or reflections they have about the lines,
and write students' comments in the right column. Discuss their thoughts and explain how
reflecting in writing can help them consider the material more thoroughly.

Encourage students to work independently using the double-entry journal. To do this, consider
some concrete information students need to know that relates to the material you are teaching.
For example, write down some vocabulary words students need to know, some dates that are
important, or some concepts or rules students need to master. Have students copy the terms in
the left column. Break students into pairs, and have them define the concepts or terms using the
column on the right. If time allows, have pairs join together into groups of four to compare their
double-entry journals and discuss each other's reflections about the text. Instruct students to use
their double-entry journals as study guides for an upcoming test or quiz.


To stretch students' thinking, decide whether you want them to use the double-entry journal for an
expressive or a concrete activity, and instruct them to choose the information to put into both the
left and the right columns. For example, if you want students to express their thoughts about a
story or novel they are reading, have them pick out the important quotes in a particular chapter
and then reflect upon them. Students can practice justifying and supporting their opinions with
evidence from the text. If you want students to learn concrete information that they are studying,
have them select important terms or concepts from the unit you are teaching for the left column
and define them in the right column.


Assign a specific writing topic, such as a descriptive essay about what students like best about a
character or book. Have them use the double-entry journal as an outline for their writing
assignment, writing the ideas they want to include in their essay in the left column and expanding
on their ideas in the right column. For example, ask students to write the essay including the use
of specific literary elements. Have them write the name of each literary element in the left column
and how the element affected the text in their essay in the right column.


Have students copy different shapes in the left column and identify and define the shapes in the
right column. Give students math problems to write in the left column. Have them explain the
process to solve the problems in the right column. Have students write a geometric theorem in
the left column and write the proof in the right column. Have students write a periodic function in
the left column and draw the graph of the function in the right column.
Social Studies

Have students write three questions they have about a unit you are about to study, such as the
American Revolution, in the left column. In the right column, have them write the answers once
they learn them. Have students write the names of places about which they are learning in the left
column, and have them explain what they know about each place in the right column.


Have students guess what is going to happen in a lab experiment, and have them write their
guesses in the left column. In the right column, have them record what the actual results were.
Give students scientific terms that relate to a unit you are studying, and have them define the
terms in the right column.

Language Arts

Using a Double-Entry Journal with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

This lesson plan is for a high school language arts class. During the lesson, students use the
double-entry journal to help them understand Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet

Students use the double entry journal to study concepts or vocabulary, express opinions, justify
an opinion using text, and understand or respond to the text they are reading.

Students write the names of several characters in the left column, and then describe the
character’s traits and what they feel about them in the right column. Students select and write
three meaningful quotes from the play in the left column; in the right column, they explain why
they chose the quote(its importance to the story) and what it means.

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