Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July Winners and Throwback Thursday Linky Party {All about RRJs}

Happy 4th of July!

I have a few things for you today...

First, winners of my little bunting giveaway from yesterday...

I had hubby choose two numbers and, in the spirit of the 4th, he chose 7 (for July) and 4 (for today) and the winners are... Tracey from Third Grade All Stars who gets my patriotic bunting and one of her choice and Michele of Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans who get a bunting set of her choice!  You ladies did not leave your e-mail addresses so please comment with them or e-mail me at! :)

Second, everything in my TpT store is 20% off today for a little 4th Flash Sale!  Click the pic to check it out and score some discounted buntings for yourself!

And I am linking up with Mrs. Carroll from The First Grade Parade for her Throwback Thursday linky party!

I wanted to spotlight a post I did last September about Reading Response Journals.  These were a HUGE part of my classroom this year and helped my students grow as readers and writers so much!  It's a nice alternative to a traditional "reading log" and helped me get a glimpse into my students' thinking as they read nightly too.

I hope you'll enjoy learning about how RRJs changed my classroom this year!

****Originally posted on 9/17/12****

We're using RRJs in my building this year to build writing and reading comprehension skills... and so far, the kids are loving them!

What's an RRJ you ask?  They are our Reading Response Journals!

Our kiddos used regular composition books and decorated the covers:

We used binder clips to put reading logs in the front of each RRJ.  The kiddos can remove and turn in their reading logs when filled and then add a new one by clipping it inside.  They have to write the date, title, genre, check the strategy they are writing about, number of pages, and AR color.

Each student also has a reference page on the first page of their RRJ.  I copied mine on yellow paper so they stand out.  The reference page explains how to fill out the RRJ and gives a list of genre definitions because they have to include the genre on each RRJ entry.

Right now, we have only learned how to summarize.  We read a few books together and did oral summaries.  Then we read and wrote a summary together.  Then I read the kids a book and each kid wrote their own summary on a half sheet of paper- this way they have the definition of the strategy and an example of what they are supposed to do.  They glued them in their RRJs.  They must also write their name, date, book title, genre, and strategy at the top of each RRJ entry.

Now my kiddos are summarizing on their own.  They summarize their reading each night Monday-Thursday and I read them during their specials and give a little note of feedback.  They love coming in to find their RRJs on their desks to see what I've said to them!

That particular little lady is quite the writer- most of my kids are doing a small paragraph of about 5-7 sentences.  They have LOVED doing their RRJs so far and I am excited about introducing more strategies in the future so they can have their choice of what to write about!

Hooray!  My first "meaty" post since school has started... YES!

Monday I posted about how we are using RRJs at my school to improve our reading comprehension and our writing and I got a TON of e-mails with questions and people wondering if I would offer my RRJ materials for sale.  So, I've tweaked them a bit to fit more classrooms than just mine and have put it up at TpT

You can download the preview file to see what is included... it's 40 pages of stuff to help you implement RRJs in your classroom!  I believe (and having taught it for two years, I am positive) that even first graders could do a modified version of this... even if they aren't keeping their own personal RRJ, the strategy pages would be great practice for printing off when studying different comprehension strategies.  The pack includes RRJ pages for students to practice summary, predicting, visualizing, text-to-self, text, and world connections, inferring, questioning, character traits, and a blank one for you to add your own strategies.

****Back to now!****
I love RRJs.  Yes, I had to make time to read them every day.  It took about 25 minutes to get through everyone's.  But it was so worth it.  And they could not wait to get their RRJ back each day to see what I had written.  Some days it was just a smiley face or a sticker and they were so happy to see that!  It was really exciting to see how their understanding changed throughout the year and their writings became so much more complex and showed deeper understanding of the reading.

I am not changing anything about this for the upcoming year.  It worked out perfectly!

Enjoy your 4th!  :)


  1. Don't you just love it when something works out so wonderfully that you don't have to change it??! Great post!
    Ms. Marciniak's First Grade Critter Cafe

  2. I found you through the linky part and I just wanted to say how much I love your blog's design. So cute!
    La Señorita Creativa

  3. What did you do about the students who did not write in their journals? I have my students write 2-3 sentences about there stories at night and I still had some not turn those in!

    1. It didn't happen often but they had to stay in at recess and do it then. I just tell them that if they are having recess at home when they should be doing homework that they will do homework at school when they should be having recess!

      I do a homework club that is a huge motivator. I had all but three of my students miss three or fewer assignments for the entire year! I teach in a high poverty area so one of my girls came in early every day and did her RRJ then because she just couldn't do it at home and I had one who spent almost every recess with me because he wouldn't do it at home... but other than that, my students did them like they were supposed to!


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