Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to use a Dialectical Journal

The Dialectical Journal

What is a Dialectical Journal?

A dialectical journal is another name for a double-entry journal or a reader-response journal. In a dialectical journal, students divide their paper into two columns. One column is labeled TEXT; the other RESPONSE.

A Dialectical Journal is reading and writing strategy that places emphasis on reading critically and then THINKING on paper about what you have read.

How Do I Keep A Dialectical Journal?

Your journal will use a two-entry form:

1. Divide your paper in half lengthwise. Draw a line through the middle of the page. Label the left-hand column TEXT; the other RESPONSE

2. Each page of your dialectical journal must be formatted this way. Please only use one side of each piece of paper.

3. In the “Text” column, copy a passage from the novel that you find to be important to the story or to your understanding of the plot or theme. You must copy the passage you choose in its entirety, and they must be recorded in chronological order. Be sure to include the page number(s) in parentheses.

4. In the “Responses” column, you will write down your ideas, questions, and comments, related to the passages on the left.

What Type of Passages Do I Include in the Text Column?

Stop and write when

· You see something you didn’t see before.

· You discover that the story is about something different from what you originally thought.

· Something puzzles you or confuses you

· You agree or disagree with an observation by the narrator or a character’s action

· Certain details seem important to you

· Circumstances or issues are especially relevant to your life or the lives of others.

· You recognize a pattern-overlapping images repetitions of idea, details, colors that make a connection

How Do I Respond in the Response Column?

The object is to engage in a dialogue with the text and keep a record of your thoughts.

· Develop insightful understanding of the passage.

· Always be sincere about what you are saying in your writing.

· The comments on the right side should be much longer than the text on the left side.

(Due to limited space and the desire to illustrate a variety of responses, the sampls on the back ar not fully developed as I expect your responses).

A variety of acceptable response types are listed.

(Q) = Question: Ask something about the passage – who, what, where, when, why, and how.

(C) = Connect: Make a personal connection by relating the quote to something in your life, from your past or from the present.

(P) = Predict: Using information given in the plot or the action, or the foreshadowing events or

characters, predict events that you anticipate will occur.

(CL) = Clarify: Answer earlier questions that you wrote down and/or confirm or disaffirm earlier predictions that you made.

(R) = Reflect: Think seriously about the passage and what it means to all people, not just to you.

Your insight should be insightful and mature.

(E) = Evaluate: Make a judgment on the character(s), the actions of the character(s), or the way the author writes something.

What if I Get Stuck?

WRITE ABOUT: what you like, what you dislike, what seems confusing, what seems unusual, what you think something means, what personal connections you make, what predictions you can pose.

Possible sentence lead-ins might begin like:

· I really don't understand this because…

· I really like/dislike this idea because…

· This idea/event seems to be important because…

· I think the author is trying to say that…

· This passage reminds me of a time in my life when…

· If I were (name of character), at this point I would…

· This part doesn't make sense because . . .

· This character reminds me of _____ because . . .

How Will the Dialectical Journal be Evaluated?

Journals are evaluated on the quality of your response.

Ø Number of entries meets requirement

Ø Detailed, meaningful passages

Ø Includes page #’s with passages and recorded in chronological order

Ø Thoughtful, insightful interpretation, commentary and connections about the text. Avoids clichés.

Ø Coverage of text is complete and thorough. (Passages are selected from beginning to end).

Ø Variety of response types displays ability to think critically.

Ø Journal is neat, organize and professional looking; student has followed directions in the organization.

(Due to limited space and the desire to illustrate a variety of responses, the sample responses are not as developed as yours should be).


The Outsiders

by S.E. Hinton


1.) “I had a long walk home and no company, but I usually lone it anyway, for no reason except that I like to watch movies undisturbed so I can get into them and live with them the actors” (1-2)

2.) “I’m not sure how you spell it, but its an

abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the Westside rich kids. It’s like the term “greaser,” which is used to class all us boys on the East Side. We’re poorer than the Socs and the middle class. I reckon we’re wilder, too (2).

3.) “Besides, I like walking. I about decided I didn’t like it so much, though, when I spotted that red Corvair trailing me. I was almost two blocks from home then, so I started walking a little faster. I had been jumped, but I had seen Johnny after four Socs got hold of him, and it wasn’t pretty” (4).

4.) “Darry is six-feet-two, and broad-shouldered and muscular. He has dark-brown hair that kicks out in front and a slight cowlick in the back – just like Dad’s – but Darry’s eyes are his own. He’s got eyes that are like two pieces of pale blue-green ice. They’ve got a determined set to them like the rest of him. He looks older than twenty – tough, cool, and smart. He would be real handsome if his eyes weren’t so cold” (6-7).

5.) “ ‘What’s your name?’ I wish she hadn’t asked me that. I hate to tell people my name for the first time” (22).

6.) “ ‘Ponyboy Curtis’ Then I waited for the ‘You’re kidding!’” (22).


(C): I know exactly how the narrator feels. I hate it when I can’t watch a movie undisturbed because I really get into movies when I watch them. It is easier to be and imagine yourself someone else when you are by yourself. Every time I watch a movie I am somehow inspired to be more than I am.

(R): It’s so hard to believe that people really do judge each other based on money and social status. Even though this book was set in the 1960’s, conflict like this still goes on even today. (COULD ALSO INCLUDE A PERSONAL CONNECTION)

(P): This is a good example of foreshadowing. I’ll bet anything that the narrator is about to get jumped! Just the idea of walking faster conveys the idea of danger. Also the idea that he is so close to home sets up the irony that most of the way he is safe and at the last moment the danger arrives. Although most movies and suspenseful texts work this way.

(E): I love the way that S.E. Hinton describes her characters so vividly. I can totally picture Darry in my mind (he sounds cute!). It’s hard to believe that Hinton

was only a teenager when she wrote this book.

(Q): I wonder why the narrator hates telling people his name for the first time. How bad could it be? Does this imply the character is weak?

(CL): Oh, I see. With a name like Ponyboy, it’s easy to understand how he might be embarrassed by it, especially when meeting a pretty girl.

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