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Lesson Plan

Exchanging Ideas by Sharing Journals: Interactive Response in the Classroom

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Exchanging Ideas by Sharing Journals: Interactive Response in the Classroom

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






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  • Arrange for students to read the same texts. Students may read the texts independently, in literature groups, or as a full class.

  • Arrange for classroom space for the example journals.
    During interactive writing sessions, whenever a new chart paper is needed, post it next to the previous chart to ensure students can see all the writing. If space is limited, each new chart can be posted on top of the previous one. By the end of the lesson sequence, a complete visual model of interactive literature responses will have been created through whole-class interactive writing lessons. As an alternative to chart paper, use the overhead projector, then photocopy and post all pages when the process is complete.
  • If desired, make copies of the templates for students to use in their journals: Sample Journal Text, Drawing, and Mixed pages.

  • Obtain a copy of the picture book My Prairie Year by Brett Harvey for introducing the interactive writing and for examples during the mini-lessons. You can also select a book from the Interactive Journal Suggested Book List, passages from a book that has already been read to or by the class, any picture book with extensive text, or a short novel that is long enough to last at least five or six read-aloud sessions.

  • ELL Note: If working with ELL students, consider rearranging the sessions so students work on drawings with related discussion before progressing to text-only responses.
    The combination of artistic and linguistic expression can help ELL students expand their communication abilities. Additionally, placing the primary response in their drawings can relieve some of the language pressure that these students feel as well as provide openings for useful discussion between students and the teacher.
  • Test the ReadWriteThink Circle Plot Diagram and Book Cover Creator on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the Technical Support page.

  • For more information and tips about reading response journals, see Reading Response Journals: Writing After Reading Is Revealing and Reading Response Journals.

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