Getting students to write about reading was a struggle for a LONG TIME! I tried all sorts of approaches, all types of reading response journals and notebooks, and yet it still felt so forced. This year, things have changed!
It all started with the understanding that students need to be invested in order to engage. That’s when the idea of having students create their own reading response notebooks formed.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links to the products I used to create the notebooks for my classroom. If you happen to purchase an item via the links below, this blog earns a small portion of those earnings.
Response Notebook Cover
This year, I gave each student a piece of 8.5 x 11″ recycled cardboard. I drew a 5.5 x 8.5 box in the middle to create a border. I had students use old scholastic book orders to decorate the border. Students cut out books that they loved, and then glued them directly onto the cardboard. This creates an amazing and highly personalized collage of their favorite books!
Two possible ways to protect the collages:
- Use modpodge to glue them down, as well as create a top coat to protect images from peeling off.
- Use packing tape around the edges to protect the collage
Then, I took a picture of each student holding up their favorite book with our classroom library in the background (just like the one of myself pictured below). In Powerpoint or Keynote, simply split your 8.5×11 slide down the middle to create space for two labels. Add a text box to personalize students names, and then drag in your photos.
I printed them on Avery Labels (8126) because I wanted to make sure they stayed on all year. However, I’m sure you can also just print on cardstock and glue them down as well. Once you’ve place your label in the middle, your cover is officially done!
Response Notebook Intro Pages
This year I decided to do a slow roll out with my guided reading groups. I wanted to get to know them as readers, and let them get to know each other as well. I created a number of “getting to know you” pages for the beginning of our journals. These include:
- A little about me
- Reading Questionnaire
- Books I love
- Characters I love
- Authors I love
- Illustrators I love
- Places I like to read
- Things I like to read about
- My reading goals
These pages have served as an incredibly useful tool. The questionnaire alone gave me SO MUCH INFORMATION! We used the initial response pages to have rich conversations about books and our reading habits in both our small groups and as a whole group. They were powerful, and I don’t think I’ll ever start my year without these activities again!
Reading Response Pages
When creating these response pages, I wanted to ensure that ALL of my students could access their journals. That’s why I created a two page spread. The first page asks students to write the title and author, rate the book (5 star rating scale) and draw a picture.
The spreads also have a handwriting guide embedded at the top of the pages for students who need support with letter formation.
For some students, they may start the year completing the first page of the spread. For others, they may feel comfortable moving onto page two from the beginning. Both are OKAY! My goal is to get students to have meaningful conversations about books with one another. Both pages will support those conversations.
As students feel more and more confident in their abilities, and I am able to better understand how to support their individual needs, I hope all of my second graders will at least attempt the letter writing component.
Response Notebook References
I included a few reference pages for my students as well. These pages I printed on colored cardstock, so they could be easily found within their notebooks.
I created a mock-letter to remind students of the different parts of a letter, as well as to help give them language to model after if they get stuck!
There is also a bulleted list to answer the question, “What can I write about?” I have divided these into fiction and non-fiction to hopefully narrow their focus, and help eliminate the overwhelm of TOO MANY choices.
Finally, at the request of my students, I included a personal word wall. I will TRY and get an editable version of this set up for folks in the near future, as I anticipate this being something you prefer to personalize to meet the needs of your classroom!
Here You Go! Your Own FREE Copy!
I have LOVED how our notebooks have turned out, and I wanted to offer them to you for your classroom! They are 100% FREE, and I hope you enjoy them!
If you use them, I’d love to see how they turn out! Tag me in your posts to social media (@jillianstarrteaching) or email me. Nothing makes my heart happier than knowing that you and your students have found these resources helpful!
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