Resolutions: Close Reading Journals


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So journals it is.  If argument journals aren’t your cup of tea, or you’d like more options employ a close reading journal. One of my favorite resources for this type of journaling is found in Nancy Dean’s Voice Lessons.  Her lessons are invaluable.  She has already selected non-fiction and prose “snippets” and created questions.  As a teacher, all you have to do is choose.  Dean’s questions often ask about the impact of specific syntax and diction.  Each quote is usually followed by two questions.  Choose the ones you like, copy and have students answer the questions as one journal reflection.  Even students who struggle can understand the power of word choice and the way that Nancy Dean constructs her questions reaches a range of students.  A teacher, especially in light of common core expectations couldn’t ask for a better resource.

Since Voice Lessons is such a fabulous resource, I could end the post right there.  However, if you’d like to kick the exercises up a bit examine Maria Popova, of Brain Pickings fame, and her Literary Jukebox.  Each day a quote from a book is posted along with a thematically chosen song.  Some of my favorites include:



Use Popova’s quotes in the same way you would with Voice Lessons except ask your students to identify the words upon which the sentences turn.   Then have them discuss the meaning, power and effect of those words in their journals.  Feel like they need more?  Have them listen to the song Popova has partnered with the quote and ask them to write about why the partnership works for the second part of their response.

Need a quick journal rubric? Here is a Close Reading Rubric that can be adapted for any type of classroom journals.

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