Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 8: Social Justice and Action - Joseph Bruchac and Francisco Jimenez
Authors and Literary Works
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Double-Entry Journal
Two Rounds
Photography Project
Student Work
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Teaching Strategies
Double-Entry Journal


An effective technique for fostering students' active engagement with a literary text is the reader response activity of double-entry journaling. In this strategy, students divide a notebook page into two columns. They write a quotation from the text they are reading on one side and their response to that quotation on the other. As the students become comfortable with the method, the two columns will record a "conversation" between the text and the reader.

Lisa Espinosa uses double-entry journals to guide her students to consider the issue of "representation" in literature, film, and photography.

Double-Entry Journals in Lisa Espinosa's Classroom

Espinosa's seventh-graders respond to a chapter of The Circuit, by Francisco Jiménez, by writing in their double-entry journals. Espinosa instructs them to find quotations that interest them, then copy those quotations (with page citations) in the left column of the journal page. In the right column, the students note how they "connect" with the quotations. Espinosa defines a "connection" as a reason for choosing the quotation -- for example, it may mark a significant moment in the text, or remind a student of a personal experience or another text. Espinosa also keeps a double-entry journal as she reads. "Modeling for students is very important," she says. "It helps kids understand the assignment and feel safe in sharing their ideas and thoughts."

After all the students have completed their double-entry notes, Espinosa asks them to share their entries. One student points to a passage in which the protagonist stands up to someone. Another reflects that the quotations he chose -- about the feelings a migrant student has about leaving school and moving yet again -- remind him of when he had to move. Another is reminded of her uncle, who has had to leave his three children in Mexico to come and work in the United States. Espinosa shares her double-entry notes last, mentioning a part where the reader can glimpse whom the protagonist will become when he matures.

Later in the unit, Espinosa uses another version of double-entry journaling. In response to Joseph Bruchac's The Heart of a Chief, the students take index cards and write an excerpt from the book on one side, then note how they connect to it on the other side. The students then share their notes in a small-group activity called "say the last word." In this activity, a student shares a quotation and members of the group respond. The student who originally chose the quotation "has the last word": he or she shares the reason it was chosen.

Tips and Variations for Double-Entry Journals

  • Teachers may ask students to record quotations in the first column and questions about the quotation in the second.

  • Teachers working with English-language learners might give the students the option to write the quotation in English and their connection or response in their native language.

  • Teachers whose students are comfortable with double-entry journaling might add a third column to create "triple-entry" journals. The third column can accommodate a partner's reaction to the original writer's notes, or the original writer's reflections after rereading their notes.

  • There are many similar strategies that structure a reader's response to a text, including a popular strategy called "the one-pager." In this technique, students respond to a section of text by illustrating a blank sheet of paper in three ways: first, they choose one representative or significant quotation and copy it; next, they write down two questions they would like to ask the author; finally, they draw a simple sketch that sums up something important about the reading or illustrates the quotation. Students can then post these "one-pagers" in a class gallery and compare what their peers have chosen from the same material.

Benefits of Double-Entry Journals

  • Double-entry journals are tools that help students read "texts and events" and then reflect on and make meaning of them.

  • Double-entry journals are one of the most simple and direct ways to teach students to read (or view, or listen to) texts carefully. By reacting to specific lines (or details) and ideas as they go, the students engage in the kind of close analysis of text necessary for articulating that text's overall "message."

  • Reader response strategies like double-entry note-taking help students practice the habits of good readers by slowing down the reading process and demanding that they become aware of the "conversation" they are having with themselves about what a text might mean. These strategies also help the students respond emotionally, ask questions, make predictions, and connect the text to their own lives.

  • The strategy supports English-language learners in numerous ways. As they read and select their quotations, they are improving reading comprehension skills. As they copy the quotations from the text, they are learning English sentence structure and vocabulary. When they write and then share their responses, they are engaging in conversational as well as academic discourse about the texts.

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