So...I think I'm going to love these Reading Response Journals! I gave them out to my kids today and, as predicted, the flower borders were a hit.
During our class meeting we discussed the purpose of the journal (to reflect on our reading) and how we were going to do this (by using prompt questions to help structure our thoughts).
Since we began our class reader today (Tree Girl by T.A. Barron) we did a Pre-Reading Response to the book before we even started. It was amazing! Using just the blurb and the cover we uncovered tons of information about the book - we discussed characters, setting, plot; we made predictions; we expressed opinions; we compared the book to other books ("Anna is just like Harry Potter! You know, he was the boy who lived and Anna is the girl who lived" was one comment.)
And remember, we hadn't even started reading Chapter 1 yet!!
After brainstorming we wrote down all of our pre-reading responses - it will be the first page in our Tree Girl booklet that we make. It was 30 minutes of really awesome learning - and not one single child complained!! I think that was what amazed me the most - they were all engaged in the task and really thinking about what they had read and what they could write about it.
After lunch we read the first chapter of the book and practiced one of the reading response question prompts - "Think about one of the characters that you have read about today. What did this character do in the story? What did you learn about this character?" Again, it was amazing to see what the girls came up with - there was some really insightful writing.
Tonight's homework was to use this same question prompt to write a reading response to whatever they read tonight for homework. Everyone has agreed that there will be no more "dipping and changing"; instead they will finish the book they have started and will journal at least three times a week about what they have read.
I'm looking forward to seeing what they all write - hopefully this is going to inspire some of my reluctant readers to take more of an interest in books :)