Double-Entry Journals

Use a double-entry journal, a graphic organizer included with this article, to encourage students to organize their thoughts on a specific subject in a new way. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
Grades:
K |
1 |
2
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Teaching Strategies:
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How Can You Stretch Students' Thinking?

To stretch students' thinking, decide whether you want them to use the double-entry journal for an expressive or a concrete activity, and instruct them to choose the information to put into both the left and the right columns. For example, if you want students to express their thoughts about a story or novel they are reading, have them pick out the important quotes in a particular chapter and then reflect upon them. Students can practice justifying and supporting their opinions with evidence from the text. If you want students to learn concrete information that they are studying, have them select important terms or concepts from the unit you are teaching for the left column and define them in the right column.

When Can You Use It?

Reading/English

Have students write the names of several characters from a book they are reading in the left column, and then have them describe what they think about the characters in the right column. Ask students to select and write three meaningful quotes from a book they are reading in the left column. In the right column, ask them to explain why they chose the quote and what it means to them.

Writing

Assign a specific writing topic, such as a descriptive essay about what students like best about a favorite time of year. Have them use the double-entry journal as an outline for their writing assignment, writing the ideas they want to include in their essay in the left column and expanding on their ideas in the right column. For example, ask students to write the essay including the use of three senses. Have them write the name of each sense in the left column and how they are going to describe that sense in their essay in the right column.

Math

Have students copy different shapes in the left column and identify the shapes in the right column. Give students math problems to write in the left column. Have them solve the problems in the right column. Have students write a geometric theorem in the left column and write the proof in the right column. Have students write a periodic function in the left column and draw the graph of the function in the right column.

Social Studies

Have students write three questions they have about a unit you are about to study, such as the American Revolution, in the left column. In the right column, have them write the answers once they learn them. Have students write the names of places about which they are learning in the left column, and have them explain what they know about each place in the right column.

Science

Have students guess what is going to happen in a lab experiment, and have them write their guesses in the left column. In the right column, have them record what the actual results were. Give students scientific terms that relate to a unit you are studying, and have them define the terms in the right column.

Lesson Plan

Using a Double-Entry Journal with Shakespeare's Hamlet

This lesson plan is for a high school language arts class. During the lesson, students use the double-entry journal to help them understand Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

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