If you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to constantly be coming up with purposeful and thoughtful writing responses.  I often times feel like we are writing just to write and then I kick myself when it comes around to testing and the students didn’t do as well as I wanted or expected.

In Linda Dorn’s Teaching for Deep Comprehension: A Reading Workshop Approach, she has a page of thoughtful journal entries that you can use with your students.  I am trying to incorporate these more into my writing day of my group.  I wrote the prompts on little cards (similar to my mission cards) and do put them in envelopes.  This way students are answering different questions and I can make it more appropriate to the different levels within the group.  I’ve found this to be a great way of mixing it up and differentiating what I’m asking of the students.  Plus, it keeps it interesting for me to read different answers and get different insight to what’s going on in their minds.

Respond personally to the text

  • How do you feel about the text and why?
  • How has the text changed your life in some way?
  • What is your favorite part of the book and why?

Respond to the theme and/or author’s purpose

  • What is the author trying to teach you?
  • What is the author’s purpose or message in the text?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this text?

Offer opinion of text

  • Do you like or dislike the text and why?
  • Who is your favorite or least favorite character and why?
  • Will you read this book again?  Why or why not?
  • Will you recommend this book to a friend?

Ask questions

  • What does the word/phrase _____ mean?
  • Why did the character act this way?
  • What did the author mean when….?
  • What is the author trying to teach you?

Make predictions/inferences

  • What do you think might happen and why?
  • I think ______ because ….

Respond to the writing style or author’s language

  • How does the author use language to create sensory images?
  • How does the author’s language deepen your understanding?

Respond to the traits and/or actions of the character(s)

  • Do you like, dislike, or admire the character(s) and why?
  • Would you act/react differently and why?

Share connections

  • Does any part of the book remind you of the world and what is occurring now or has happened in the past?
  • How have your own experiences deepened your understanding?
  • How is this text (characters or events) similar to another book (characters or events)?
  • Do you connect in any way with a character from the text?

Critique the text

  • Did the author do a good job organizing the text? crafting the text?
  • What are the resources the author used to provide you with accurate and current information?
  • Did the author use text features to help you understand the information?
  • Did the author follow the text structures for the genre?

Good luck as you begin to use some of these prompts with your kids.  When I first started using more thoughtful prompts you would have thought I was asking my students for their left arm.  Stick with it!  Getting them to think deeper and more reflective is good for them! 🙂  Happy teaching and happy writing!