Sunday, August 12, 2012

Literacy Journal Organization & Sections

Here begins the saga of a new teacher blog!  I thought I would begin by posting some ideas I have for my fourth grader's literacy journals this year.  I've used similar sections in my students' journals for a few years now, but this will be the first year trying the fun, colorful tabbies.  I'm hoping this will help them cut down on wasted time looking for the different categories in their books, and this way they will be able to easily flip from one section to the next.

You can see from the attached pictures that I have put the $0.25 pack of sticky notes from Staples to good use already.  I divided the journal into five main sections, My Level, My Goals, Notes, Word Work, and Vocabulary List, as seen here:
 Students also get to decorate the covers of their literacy journals with stickers, drawings, etc.  I just wrote each section title with a Sharpie on the sticky note, and then folded a piece of transparent tape over each sticky so it will hold fast through a lot of flipping back and forth between each section.  

The first section, My Level, helps students keep track of their assessment results and track their progress throughout the year.  These are some of the assessments that we use in our district, and the students know where they should be throughout the year on each assessment.  This usually only takes one page, so I have this at page 1.  It looks something like this at the end of the fourth grade year:

Next, students record their reading goals.  These are a combination of teacher & student made.  When I conference with each student throughout the year, I usually suggest two different goals for them to work on after completing a running record, unit test, or some other assessment.  The student gets to choose which one of the two goals they want to work on the most.  Then, following the CAFE model, the student writes their name on the front of a sticky note, their new goal on the back of the sticky, and then posts it beneath the appropriate CAFE category on our bulletin board (pictures to come!).  This is what it looks like on page 2 of our literacy journal:

The notes section comes next, and this is where students record whatever random goodness we are learning during literacy time.  Some examples might include copying notes directly from an input chart that we did as a class, summarizing what they talked about with a partner, identifying the main ideas in the book they are reading, recording synonyms that they come across in their reading, etc.  You'll notice that I like to leave the left margin for the date, as I've found that this can really help with accountability for what they've gotten done each day!  For this section, I left about 25 pages, and this is what the first page might look like:

 Word Work is the next section, and I'll do a whole new blog entry for all kinds of fun ideas for Word Work time!  This will be the first year that I'll have students record their word work in their literacy journal instead of on a separate piece of paper to turn in, and this is where I'm expecting many students will need a second journal (thanks to great back to school sales where I get them for $0.01-$0.10 each, I have plenty to spare!)  I left about 30 pages in here for the students, and I expect them to use the front and back of every page before being rewarded with a new journal especially for word work.  I split this section into three columns; one is for the date, the second is for the work, and the third is for a quick self-assessment for the student to do at the end of our 30 minute word work time each day (I pull nearly half the class in some kind of intervention/TAG group during this time, so this is also where they would record what group they were pulled for).  Here is how rainbow words and ladder words would be recorded:

 The last five pages of their literacy journal is for their Vocabulary List.  As students read their just right books, they collect unfamiliar vocabulary words in this chart.  Any word they can't explain or use in a strong sentence, they can write here.  Later, we make vocabulary cards with these words and play some games to help increase their vocabulary.  Date, Book Title, Page Number, and Word are the column headings for this section, as seen here:

So there you have it!  A fun way to organize the students' literacy learning and make it easy for them to find each section as they need it throughout the year!  I would love to get your feedback on  how you've used something similar, or ways to improve this method.  Happy Teaching!

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