The Reading Log (Aka. Reading Response Journal/Dialectical Journal/Double-Entry Journal) The term “Dialectic” means “the art or practice of arriving at the truth by using conversation involving question and answer.” Think of your dialectical journal as a series of conversations with the texts we read during this course. The process is meant to help you develop a better understanding of the texts we read. A reading log is an effective way to keep a record of your reading responses- positive or negative, sure or unsure. It offers a chance to respond personally, to ask questions, wonder, predict, or reflect on the characters, events, literary elements, or language of a text. Do not summarize! Instead, record your textual observations. The dialectical journal is a double-entry note taking system. It helps one to read critically and encourages the habit of reflective questioning. It is a place to record and explore ideas using writing as a tool for learning. Procedures for keeping a reading log are as follows: Use notebook paper (one-side only) or you may type it Must have two columns (divide the page in 1/2) Title the column on the left “Quotations from the Text” Title the column on the right “Commentary/Responses to the Text” o If you choose, you can label your responses using the following codes: o (Q) Question – ask about something in the passage that is unclear o (C) Connect – make a connection to your life, the world, or another text o (P) Predict – anticipate what will occur based on what’s in the passage o (CL) Clarify – answer earlier questions or confirm/disaffirm a prediction o (R) Reflect – think deeply about what the passage means in a broad sense – not just to the characters in the story. What conclusions can you draw about the world, about human nature, or just the way things work? o (E) Evaluate - make a judgment about the character(s), their actions, or what the author is trying to say Sample Dialectical Journal entry: THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien Passages from the text Pg#s Comments & Questions “-they carried like freight (R) O’brien chooses to end the first section of the trains; they carried it on Pg 2 novel with this sentence. He provides excellent their backs and shoulders- visual details of what each solider in Vietnam would and for all the ambiguities carry for day-to-day fighting. He makes you feel the of Vietnam, all the physical weight of what soldiers have to carry for mysteries and unknowns, simple survival. When you combine the emotional there was at least the weight of loved ones at home, the fear of death, single abiding certainty and the responsibility for the men you fight with, that they would never be with this physical weight, you start to understand at a loss for things to what soldiers in Vietnam dealt with every day. This carry”. quote sums up the confusion that the men felt about the reasons they were fighting the war, and how they clung to the only certainty - things they had to carry - in a confusing world where normal rules were suspended. CHOOSING PASSAGES FROM THE TEXT: Look for quotes that seem significant, powerful, thought provoking or puzzling. For example, you might record: o Effective &/or creative use of stylistic or literary devices o Passages that remind you of your own life or something you’ve seen before o Structural shifts or turns in the plot o A passage that makes you realize something you hadn’t seen before o Examples of patterns: recurring images, ideas, colors, symbols or motifs. o Passages with confusing language or unfamiliar vocabulary o Events you find surprising or confusing o Passages that illustrate a particular character or setting RESPONDING TO THE TEXT: You can respond to the text in a variety of ways. The most important thing to remember is that your observations should be specific and detailed. You can write as much as you want for each entry. You can use loose leaf paper for your journals or download the template. Basic Responses o Raise questions about the beliefs and values implied in the text o Give your personal reactions to the passage o Discuss the words, ideas, or actions of the author or character(s) o Tell what it reminds you of from your own experiences o Write about what it makes you think or feel o Agree or disagree with a character or the author Sample Sentence Starters: I really don’t understand this because… I really dislike/like this idea because… I think the author is trying to say that… This passage reminds me of a time in my life when… If I were (name of character) at this point I would… This part doesn’t make sense because… This character reminds me of (name of person) because… Higher Level Responses o Analyze the text for use of literary devices (tone, structure, style, imagery) o Make connections between different characters or events in the text o Make connections to a different text (or film, song, etc…) o Discuss the words, ideas, or actions of the author or character(s) o Consider an event or description from the perspective of a different character o Analyze a passage and its relationship to the story as a whole Variations on the Dialectical Journal Format o Metacognitive Journal – what I learned/how I figured it out (incl. pg. #s) o Synthesis Journal – at the end of a weekly cycle, consider your Dialectical Journal entries, group work & participation in class discussion. Analyze your overall progress as a reader & writer. Responses may start: “The imagery reveals…” “The setting gives the effect of…” “The author seems to feel…” “The tone of this part is…” “The character(s) feel(s)…” “This is ironic because…” “The detail seems effective/out of place/important because…” “An interesting word/phrase/sentence/thought is…” “This reminds me of…” “Something I notice/appreciate/don’t appreciate/wonder about is…” Or you may start with something else you feel is appropriate Generally each response should be 5 sentences and should include your analysis of the literary techniques present in the quotations, the author’s attitude, purpose or tone, and relation to personal experience. Show me that you have read the entire book by responding to the novel from the first to the last page. You must a minimum of 20 entries (or at least one per entry per every 20 pages or per every chapter-whichever is more). Make sure that you note the page number for the quotes. Your journal will be used to determine your comprehension of the text. Be sure that your responses are thorough and that you complete the journal for all chapters of the book. Please remember that these logs are not meant to be personal diaries. The left column is used for notes - direct quotations or summaries from the reading. The right column is used for commenting on notes in the left column. Personal reactions to the notes on the left go here. The comments on the right may include: • what the passage prompts in thinking or memory associations; • feelings toward the author’s words; • words or passages not understood; • words or passages that look important; and • connections among passages or sections of the work. As you take notes in your journal, you should regularly reread the previous pages of notes and comments, drawing connections in a right-column summary before starting another page of the journal. Here are a few samples: 1.) ““I don’t talk things sir,” said Faber, “I talk the meanings of things. I sit here and know I’m alive.”” (75). This is a great quote in my opinion. It’s very insightful, and shows an interesting view on living. It illustrates the difference between talking and actually doing. People can talk as much as they want and never make anything out of it. You can fill the air with all kinds of words that have no meaning whatsoever. Words are empty until people can give them meaning. The meanings are deeper; it is what lies beneath, the significance of the word itself. It is another interesting concept the way Faber says “I know I’m alive.” He knows what it is to actually experience life, different than thinking about life or watching life as it slips away. 2.) “Knowledge is more than equivalent to force!” (106). I think this is a great passage from this book. Ironically it is spoken by the man (Beatty) who is completely against knowledge and any who seeks to read things and understand. Still I think this is a great way to show an opposing viewpoint from what many would believe to be true, which would be that brute force is the greatest power. People can forget that with knowledge and wisdom also comes power. Force is limited, it cannot bring you everything that you want. While knowledge can’t either, the amount of knowledge you can gain is endless. There is never any limit to what one can understand or inquire about. Knowledge is the world of possibilities, power and intelligence, and is greater than force when it comes to value, and usefulness in society. 3.) “But you can’t make people listen. They have to come around in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under them”(153). I especially like this quote because it is so true. There isn’t anything that you can say that will make people listen and understand, or even care about what you’re telling them. Most of the time, someone has to experience something for themselves to be able to understand the importance of it. It is only natural for people to make mistakes, and the mistakes are critical in the learning process. To be able to gain the knowledge, we must experience the lesson first hand. As people, we can’t always be told that something is the truth and trust that it is right. Each person takes their own time to learn, to come around and realize the way things are. Sometimes it does require the world blowing up underneath them to make a person really consider themselves or their actions. It isn’t human nature for people to listen the first time around, and it isn’t reasonable to expect them to. 4.) “He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back”(12). I think this is a great passage and an interesting simile. This reveals a lot about the way that people are, and how they can put on a cover, or a “mask” that is so much different than what they are. People wear masks of all kinds, pretending to be happy, tough or normal. People can front for many reasons, to impressive other people, to try to fit in, or even just because they are too scared to admit their true characters to themselves even. You can try to be something else because it is the thing you want to be, because you don’t like the person that you really are. Many people spend so much of their time acting like something different that it is hard for them to really be themselves; they have absorbed who they are in another identity. This is how Guy Montag is in the novel, he spends his time pretending to be happy, because he wishes he really was, even when he isn’t. The other part of this passage discusses him not being able to get his mask back. This is also true. If somebody else has revealed the real content of your character (taken off the mask) it is impossible to go back to the way that you were. Once the mask is taken away, there is no more need to pretend. 5.) “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while” (52). I love this quote, and completely agree with it. It prompts people to think about what they are doing and things that are happening. It shows people that we need to question everything. We can’t settle in and forget what’s going on or avoid problems. The character delivering this quote (Guy Montag) wants to encourage independent thought and problem solving in others. If we all just start avoiding the difficult things in life because they are “bothersome” then nothing would ever get done, no problems would ever get resolved. What this passage is saying is that when we encounter a dilemma we cannot just turn away from it, labeling it as worrisome, but rather face it head on, be bothered, and take care of what we need to. Independent Novel Selection Title: Dialectical Journal Passage and Page # Why you choose it?
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