10 Easy Prep Journal Response Ideas

Hi! This is Kelly, from Teaching Fourth. Journals are such an effective way to engage students in thinking and responding to reading for both literature and informative texts. They help students think about and reflect on lessons and on their reading. Even before Pinterests and blogs, I used journals as part of my instruction. Although those journals were not picture worthy, they were still great tools to use in my classroom. I have to admit, I love a well-organized journal with cut-and-paste entries, but sometimes, there is just not time to do all of that cutting and pasting. On these days, I don't abandon them, I just simplify a bit with one of these ten easy prep journal response ideas.

Label the title of the page "So What?". Below, students write the main idea of the text. Then students explain why it is important in three sentences.

Students list 5 most intriguing, interesting, or memorable ideas found in their reading. Include page number and short rationale.

Students think of five words to use to describe ____ (topic in the text, character from the story, setting, etc.). They should then justify each choice in 2-3 sentences.

The 3, 2, 1 is a great exit slip to use for many different lessons in science, history, as well as reading responses for informational texts. The 3, 2, 1 can be found in my Exit Slips package (in my TpT store), but when you need a quick journal entry, just have the students write each of these on a page in their journals.
3 Pieces of Information
2 Things that Interest You
1 Question

This is similar to a T chart. Students draw a T in their journals. They label the left side, "3-5 Quotations" and the right side, "Your Reaction to Each". Students simply choose 3-5 quotes from the text and thoughtfully respond to each quote on the right side of the chart.

Students create a top 10 list of the most important, most interesting, or most informative pieces of information from the text.

Students can illustrate a response to a text by giving a visual representation of the knowledge gained from the text through a drawing.

Whether you want your students to focus on problem/solution, example/non-example, or cause/effect situations in a text, a T-chart is the perfect way for students to respond to a text and dig deep into these concepts.

For this journal entry, each student draws a circle. Then she writes something that is still going around in her head. Next, she will draw a triangle and point out something that stood out in her mind. Third, she will draw a square and write something that is all squared up or that she agreed with the thinking in the text.

Students simply trace his/her handprint on a journal page. Then write 5 important facts from the text on each finger or 5 important words. Then write the main point in the palm.

I know and understand the time restraints that teachers face each day. Don't abandon journals on days that a lack of time is an issue. Instead, use these creative and simple journal entries that will save you from standing at the copying machine and allow you to use your class time for instruction instead of students cutting and pasting. Your students will certainly be engaged, and your journals won't be abandoned.

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