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Lesson Plan

Demonstrating Comprehension Through Journal Writing

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Introduction: 45 minutes; thereafter: 15 minutes per session
Lesson Author

Sharon Faulkner

Andover, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson invites students to demonstrate comprehension by responding to open-ended questions based on the 1939 Newbery Honor chapter book Mr. Popper's Penguins. Students draw from the text and their personal experiences to create written journals. Journal writing allows students to be less formal as they incorporate their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions into responses. Involvement with and relation to a story's characters, setting, and plot also enhance comprehension and promote a deeper understanding of the story. This lesson does not need to be completed on consecutive days but may be incorporated as part of a standard read-aloud session used in the classroom.

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Journal Questions: This helpful handout will guide your students to respond to questions related to each chapter of Mr. Popper's Penguins in a personal journal.

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Barton, J. & Sawyer, D.M. (2003). Our students are ready for this: Comprehension instruction in the elementary school. The Reading Teacher, 57(4), 334347.

  • Making personal connections helps with comprehension. Teachers can encourage students to make associations between their lives and the characters, setting, feelings, and ideas presented in what they read.

  • Talking, writing, and drawing provide students with the chance to reflect upon and understand what they read.


Bauman, J., Hooten, H., & White, P. (1999). Teaching comprehension through literature: A teacher-research project to develop fifth-graders' reading strategies and motivation. The Reading Teacher, 50, 3851.

  • Trade books can provide a medium for teaching reading comprehension strategies.

  • Teachers can combine comprehension strategy instruction with reading and response activities.

  • The following comprehension strategies may be used by students: self-questioning, retelling, writing, summarizing, predicting and verifying, using a story map, assuming a character role, and responding aesthetically.

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