Friday, January 30, 2015

Double-Entry Journal Responses & Padlet

I have been reading aloud two amazing books to tie in Social Studies, Reading, and Writing this unit: A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack and The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Our discussions have been mainly about the civil rights time period because of the books, but students will be tackling the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a lot about Missouri!

The really awesome thing about A Friendship for Today (and totally engaged students right away!) is that the story takes place in our very own neighborhood! Patricia McKissack attended Robinson as one of the very first African American students integrating into a public school and writes about an African American girl attending "Robertson" in "Kirkland, Missouri" in 1954, after the decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka banned racial segregation in public schools. Rosemary befriends a white girl who was her sworn enemy before she came to Robertson simply due to the differences of their skin color.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 is about an African American family living in Flint, Michigan making the trek to Birmingham, Alabama during the crucial time of the civil rights movement, especially in the South. Students are learning about the unrest that occurred and how African Americans struggled for basic human rights. This book has been bringing about an open discussion of our rights and how the times have changed...or have they?

As I read aloud, students are taking notes in their reading notebooks with a double-entry journal response. The anchor chart we made last semester looks like this:

Once I finish reading aloud a chapter, students are asked questions that relate to that week's skill/strategy. When we first began answering these questions, students were writing incomplete sentences and very short responses. We then had a writing mini-lesson of revising and editing with the use of colors. [We've had to have many mini-lessons about nouns, verbs, and adjectives...more on that in a later post!] We use yellow to highlight the first word of our sentences [to add variety in our sentence starters], blue for verbs, and pink for adjectives. Students have noticed a growth in their responses, both in length and in thoughtfulness as we have continued to monitor what we write.
A sample of a student's writing to the question found on the label at the top of the picture.
Although writing in our individual notebooks is a great way to guide our thinking, it oftentimes is thought of as a private thing. So sometimes, students don't feel that they are kept accountable to their writing and their responses to the text. My teammate introduced me to padlet, a great way to view real-time responses. I placed some of the questions on padlet and students were able to see that their responses were going to be viewed by everyone in the room. It was a great way to be accountable for their writing and have a rich discussion afterward about the thoughts that were displayed.

Prior to the discussion, students had to read everyone's comments and then find one that they agreed with or disagreed with. Students had to provide evidence from the text or their own schema as to why they agreed or disagreed. What a great way to have a discussion while working on our skills of citing evidence and providing support!

Students have been enjoying this unit, as we have been learning about issues of social justice and the basic human rights of all. We hope to become citizens who respect the rights of all, within and outside the four walls of our classroom!

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