Sunday, November 09, 2008

Reading Journals

Every year that I've taught (this is my 7th year), I've had my students keep reading journals. These spiral bound notebooks are letters back and forth, primarily between me and each individual student, all about their reading lives.

If I had to choose one structure that captures my philosophy and passion and essence as a teacher, it would be reading journals. Things I love about them: our letters back and forth make for a very authentic writing experience, they are full of my students' personal, thoughtful responses to books, and they position my students in a relationship with me that is about "fellow reader" and "fellow thinker", setting up an apprenticeship learning model that I know they learn well from. I am often blown away by the originality and quality of their thinking in these letters.

A few choice lines from this week's batch of letters:
"I think that was really thoughtful of you to give me a wonderful book." (Life As We Knew It)
"It made me sad when Tally's boyfriend died." (Pretties)
"Smiles To Go is about the teenager named Will Tuppence and he really likes science which ties into my own life because I like science."
"If I could be any character I would want to be Bella because she is a really special girl who has the perfect life other than her boyfriend's a vampire and her old best friend/arch enemy is a werewolf." (Twilight series)
"I give Twilight fives stars because it's a gripping non able to stop book and also because it's a novel and one of the best selling books in America."
"If I could be one of the characters I would be Annabeth or Thalia, because they're both strong and smart." (Percy Jackson series)
"This is one of my favorite books because my mom read it to me when I was little." (Green Eggs and Ham)

Aren't my students amazing??
Love 'em.


Ellen Nicholson Walker said...

You are a teacher after my own heart! I would add to the list of 'can't be left out' activities reading aloud to the students. You might like to browse through my blog, which is about good books to read aloud to kids:
(I'm in Utah, too!)

Ms. Yingling said...

I must say that as a prolific reader and writer in school, I HATED reading journals with an all-consuming passion. Perhaps the teacher never explained to us why we were doing them. Make sure you do that, and know that the students might not be as fond of them as you are! (My 9th grade daughter also dislikes them!)

Anonymous said...

I'm a sixth grade reading teacher of 180 students. I really want to do reading journals; I just don't know how to manage them with that many students. Can you help? BTW...I love your blog!