Dialogue Journal A Reading and Writing Strategy Description: DIALOGUE JOURNALS allow students to engage with the text on their own terms. When students are given the opportunity to interact with the text and to make meaning from the text, their analytical skills, reading ability and enjoyment are enhanced. Steps: 1) Students create journals by stapling several sheets of paper together and folding the journal in half to create two sides — left and right. 2) Instructions to students: • On the left side, entitled NOTE TAKING, jot down quotes, lines and page references of scenes. (See student instructions and chart.) • On the right side, entitled NOTE MAKING, make connections, ask questions about what’s happening or what you don’t understand, make interpretations, analyze symbols and respond to what you are reading. (See student instructions and chart.) • Usually the journaling is open-ended, based on your response to the text. Sometimes, however, the teacher will ask you to examine a particular passage, to draw a diagram or to make specific connections. 3) Break the reading and journal writing into manageable segments. Make assignments. For example, students will write two journal entries for the first four chapters of the novel. Or, students will write one journal entry for every two chapters. 4) Part of the writing involves students coming up with questions they have about the reading. These questions then can spark a richer class discussion. 5) For students unfamiliar with dialogue journaling, the teacher can model, using the overhead, with full class involvement. (See example.) 6) On the day after reading is completed, students share their journaling in small groups. As part of this activity, each group can select one passage and two questions to put on large paper or on overheads for full class discussion. 7) While small groups share, the teacher circulates to initial or check off the completion of the journal assignment. Variations, Other Activities and CIM Spinoffs: 1) As students read, they keep track of their connections by coding them: • TS for Text to Self. These are personal connections that remind students of a time when they were somewhere, saw something, heard something, or something they dreamed about. • TT for Text to Text. These are connections to movies, films, books, magazines, comics, songs, poems, etc. • TW for Text to World. These are connections to current events, historical events, humanitarian issues or global concerns. Dialogue Journal — page 2 2) Students can use their journals to find an expository or persuasive topic. This topic can be developed into an essay as well as a speech. 3) Coming from their personal connections to the text, students can use their journals to find a narrative topic and take these personal story entries through the revision process. 4) Students can submit this journal as a reading work sample as long as the three required dimensions (comprehension, extending understanding and text analysis) are covered. 5) Have students work in pairs and write in Partner Dialogue Journals. • Each student has a separate journal. • Use the standard two-column DIALOGUE JOURNAL format. • Students choose at least one topic or passage per chapter, write it in the left column of their journal’s page and then respond underneath the topic or passage in the same column. • Students then trade journals and respond to each other’s ideas in the right column of the page. • The suggested completion rate for this activity is every other day. • At the end of the novel/play, students can use these journals to generate topics and evidence for a literary analysis essay. Not only do they have a record of their own ideas, but they also have another student’s perspective. • Possible criteria for scoring Partner Dialogue Journals: — PLUS (+) 100% = Complete, thorough and thoughtful, draws personal connections to the book, extends meaning, interpretive — CHECK (√) 85% = Mostly all of the above OR entries hold the above quality, but some are missing — MINUS (—) 70% = Demonstration of basic comprehension, some personal connection and extension of meaning, some interpretation OR entries hold the above quality, but several are missing.
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