Reader's Workshop Series – Read and Respond Journals

Read and Respond Journals are the glue that holds our Reader’s Workshop together. I like to think of our journals as a map of each student’s learning and reading progress through the year.

On the first day of school, each student gets his/her own crisp journal and we begin mapping out our year. During The First Weeks, students add illustrations of their favorite reading memory and their go-to reading spot. They also learn how to write and share meaningful reading recommendations and record their first Just Right Reading Range for the year. Excitement buzzes as students begin adding to their Must-Read Lists and filling in boxes on their Reading Challenge Record.

Peek Inside Our Read and Respond Journals
We also set our first of three S.M.A.R.T. reading goals for the school year so the students can immediately begin reading with a purpose at home and at school.
The bulk of the journal is used for writing about reading. Every few weeks, I introduce a new Read and Respond prompt, which students use for their nightly Read and Respond homework and later use as an option for blogging.
Read and Respond Tip Sheet, Reading BINGO, Rubric Based Read and Respond Assessment

I prefer to use prompts that have rich academic language so students can incorporate this language into their conversations and writing. I spend 20-30 minutes introducing the prompt using the Tip Sheet and Instructional Posters that correspond with that prompt. During this introduction, students accomplish the following:

How To Introduce a Read and Respond Prompt

Students head home that night and make their best effort to respond to the prompt using the tip sheet as needed. Each morning while my third graders complete their Bellwork in the first ten minutes, I walk around and grade each of their responses according to our Read and Respond rubric. This timely feedback helps them to improve their next response and helps me to know what I need to chat with them about during Reader’s Workshop that day.
Within the first month, their journal pages begin to fill quickly and students proudly share their written responses. They are always shocked with how much they are capable of writing and then maturely agree when I remind them it’s always easy to write about the books you love. By now, most of my students have become greatly attached to their Read and Respond Journals; they are seen carrying them to our school library so they can add to their Must-Read List, whispering and pointing to their latest response as they walk through the door together in the morning (no I’m not exaggerating…it’s adorable), and returning to the classroom 30 minutes after school is dismissed to pick up their accidentally-forgotten journal despite the fact that they can always write their response on a piece of binder paper.  I love these first signs that the foundation of our reading community is established.
As the year progresses, we add a few more pages to the back of our journals to support success with reading blogs.

Read and Respond Journal Pages for bloggers

If you are interested in setting up Read and Respond Journals in your class, my free Read and Respond Journal Starter Pack and Reading BINGO tools can help you get started.

Read and Respond Reading Journal Starter Pack
Reading Bingo Nightly Reading Logs Resource Cover
If you want to dabble with a Read and Respond prompt before making the full leap to Read and Respond Journals, download my freebie Read and Respond Prompt Pack: Central Message.
Read and Respond Central Message Freebie

I would love to hear your plans for incorporating Read and Respond journals into your classroom curriculum. Are you a dabbler or are you ready to take the leap?


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6 Responses

  1. Hi Laura,
    I just wanted to let you know that you have written in your post that the if you are interested in setting up Read and Respond Journals, “my free Read and Respond Journal Starter Pack and Reading BINGO tools can help you get started”, but when I click the links those two products are no longer free. Just thought you may want to update that. 🙂 I’m moving from 2nd to 3rd next year and want to use everything you have created. I’m so excited!

    1. Hi Kate,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and let me know those links were inactive. I have updated them, and they are working now. 🙂

  2. HI Laura, I have a question about the prompts. Do you have students glue these sheets into their journals each time they work in their journal, or do you give them one as a “cheat sheet” to guide them and then they simply record on the paper in their journal?

  3. Hi Laura,
    I have been using your math workshop starter kit and absolutely love it! This year I am looking to improve our reading groups. We do not do the Daily 5 but the students do reading responses daily and love this post about how you do it in your classroom. I was wondering what other journal prompts you do throughout the year and if you would be willing to share those. Thanks for all your wonderful resources!

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank you for reaching out. 🙂 Since writing this post, I switched to a different school that uses Lucy Cualkin’s reading workshop so I am no longer using journal prompts. The main idea/detail prompts were the only prompts I was able to develop before the switch. 🙂

I’m Laura Santos

I’ve been an elementary teacher for ten years, and love sharing tips and resources that make differentiated learning more manageable for you. Thank you for visiting.

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