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The Write to Read

The Write to Read
Response Journals That Increase Comprehension

Edited by:

Foreword by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

July 2009 | 200 pages | Corwin

Use reader response strategies to achieve Common Core goals in reading and in writing!

Response journals—brief, personal writing in response to reading—can significantly improve reading comprehension. What's more, when scaffolded over the year, reader response strategies promote engagement, build understanding of complex literary and informational text, and even help students provide supporting evidence in their writing—all goals of the Common Core. For educators eager to use reader response strategies, veteran teacher Lesley Roessing presents a unique, step-by-step approach that inspires thoughtful reading and skillful writing in Grades 5–12.

Based on research and her own classroom experience, Roessing's innovative writing exercises encourage students to read more deeply, develop questions, and participate actively in class. Beginning with simple response tasks and moving toward more complex assignments, the book provides a scaffolded curriculum for the full academic year. Developed for language arts and content area teachers, as well as literacy specialists, this resource includes:

  • Examples of response journals for a wide range of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and students' personal reading
  • Strategies for using reader response to guide classroom discussions, group work, book clubs, and journal writing at home
  • Adaptations for students with diverse abilities
  • Numerous classroom-ready templates and samples of student work

Discover a well-structured writing curriculum that promotes confident learning and the joy of reading.

List of Figures
List of Photographs
About the Author
1. The Three Rs: Rationale for Reader Response
Part I Before-Reading Response
2. The Pre-Reading Response
How to Choose a Book

The Anticipation Response


PART II During-Reading Response
3. Journaling: Setup for Success
Reading Experiences in My Classroom

The Reading Journal

Teaching During-Reading Response

Avoiding Retelling: Response Starters

Independent Reading Response

Abandonment Response


4. Double-Entry Journaling and Sticky Notes
Double-Entry Journaling

Strategy Response

Putting It All Together

Going Deeper: Using Sticky Notes


5. Poetic Response
Found Poetry

Narrative Poetry

Poems in Two Voices

I Am...Poetry

The Advantages of Poetry

6. Interactive Response
Note Passing

Family Letters

Letters to Friends

Co-Reading Letters

Talking About Texts

Collaborative Response

7. Literature Circles and Book Clubs: Discussion Response
Literature Circles as Training

Book Clubs

Book Club Response


8. Individual Reading: Relinquishing Control and Giving Choice
Reading Like a Writer: Writer's Craft Responses

Choice Reading - Choice Response

Multigenre Response

Drawing as Response

Reaching the Goal: Unique, Varied, Personal, Individual Response

A Sample Journal for One Novel


The Case of Julio, ELL Student

Part III After-Reading Response
9. Post-Reading Response
Text Reformulations

The Post-Reading Evaluative Responses

Book Reviews and Book Talks

Book Reviews

Book Talks

Literary Critiques


Part IV Content Area Response Adaptations
10. Responding Across the Curriculum
Nonfiction Texts

Text Features

Marginal Notes

Electronic Media - Web Site Response

Content Area Reading

Pre-Reading Response

During-Reading Response


Double-Entry Journals

Poetic Response

Note Passing

After-Reading Response

The Rationale

Part V Response Evaluation
11. Teacher and Student Evaluation
Formative Assessments

Assessment of Independent Reading

The Assessment Process

Evaluative Assessments: Grading

Assessment of Shared Reading


"What's in It for Me?" Student Metacognition and Musings

First Marking Period Self-Analysis

After a Semester of Response

End-of-Year Reflection

12. Coming to a Conclusion
Resource A: Literary References
Resource B: Forms and Examples
1. Independent Reading Requirements (Chapter 3)

2. Daily Reading Log (Chapter 3)

3. Literature Response Starters (Chapter 3)

4. Reading Interests/Books Pass Charts (Chapter 3)

5. Double-Entry Journal - Questioning (Chapter 4)

6. Question-Answer Chart (Chapter 4)

7. Strategies Used by Successful Readers (Chapter 4)

8. Double-Entry Journal - Making Connections (Chapter 4)

9. Double-Entry Journal - Literary Elements (Chapter 4)

10. Double-Entry Journal - Identifying Strategies Used (Chapter 4)

11. Sticky-Note Response Journal (Chapter 4)

12. Sticky-Note Question-Anwer-Response Journal (Chapter 4)

13. Book Club Meeting Agenda (Chapter 7)

14. Book Club Double-Entry Response Journal (Chapter 7)

15. Reading Strategies - Author's Craft Journal (Chapter 8)

16. Author's Craft Response Journal (Chapter 8)

17. News Article Formats (Chapter 9)

18. Content Area Double-Entry Response Journal (Chapter 10)


"A transactional approach to understanding literature will come alive for intermediate and middle school teachers and students who avail themselves of Roessing's advice and examples in this book. What a practical resource for teachers! Facilitating a balanced reading and writing program is at the heart of The Write to Read."

Annemarie Jay, Assistant Professor, Widener University
Author, A Guide to Literacy Coaching

"This is such an easy answer: a curriculum that builds to strong reader response. This is a gem."

Dolores Hennessy, Reading Specialist
New Milford Public Schools, CT

"A comprehensive, well-reasoned text devoted to reader response at middle elementary and secondary levels. Such authenticity is appealing to the field."

Barbara A. Marinak, Assistant Professor
Penn State Harrisburg

"The major strengths of the book are the explicit instructions for set-up, multiple examples of student responses, examples of varieties of texts used for modeling, and materials for teacher use in appendices."

Dixie D. Massey, Senior Lecturer
University of Washington

"The author provides very engaging and helpful examples throughout the book. One can really 'see' how these ideas work."

Lettie K. Albright, Associate Professor of Literacy
Texas Woman's University
Key features
  • Offers a year-long scaffolding format with a focus upon response journaling
  • Presents techniques and models teachers can use for before-reading response, during-reading response, and after-reading response and includes assessment guidelines
  • Answers the three questions most asked by literacy teachers:
    • How do I know if my students are actually reading and comprehending what they read?
    • How can I assess workshop reading both for teaching and for a grade and defend grades to parents and administrators?
    • How can I get students to read more deeply?
  • Teachers of different grade levels and content areas can modify the given strategies and models to use in their own classrooms
  • Contains presentation of lesson(s), teacher demonstration models, student examples, and reproducible forms
  • Concludes each chapter with ideas for adaptations for differentiated instruction
  • Provides an appendix of 22 reproducible models and forms

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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