Double Entry Journals

In this strategy, students take notes on their reading in two columns with a line drawn vertically down the middle of each page. In one column, they summarize important ideas from the text. In the other, they write their own thoughts and responses - questions, confusions, personal reactions, or reflections on what the information means.

Why Use It: Many students need to learn how to take effective notes when they read and to identify important concepts and facts they will need later, rather than view everything as equally significant. They also need opportunities to reflect on the topic, to wonder about its significance, or ask themselves what might be implied by the ideas presented. This is a more continuous, self-directed response tool compared to sticky notes and book-marks.

How does it work?
1. Read aloud through a short selection on the overhead (or photocopy for all to follow). Model for students how to distinguish between important and minor ideas in their reading, restating in your own words in column one, thinking aloud about why you chose those items and then jotting down that thinking, along with other responses, in column two.
2. Give students a chance to practice this kind of thinking and note-taking with another short piece of reading and share the results together.
3. For a specific assignment, have students do some double entry note-taking as they read on their own and again compare the results in class together 0 thus gradually turning more responsibility over to them.
4. If you require students to take these notes regularly, you'll probably want to check their notebooks periodically. Stagger the due dates for various classes so you aren't overloaded with paperwork. Skim over an check off the entries quickly and, if you have time, comment on just one or two for each student, perhaps with sticky notes on your own.

Example: When it comes to learning foreign languages, this strategy would be more appropriate for students at intermediate to advanced levels, where readings are more complex. As an example, I would instruct students to make a 2 column sheet in one of the pages of their notebook. Then, I would distribute two brief articles in Spanish on different topics. I would read the first article out loud and have them follow along with their copy. Let's say the first article was on immigration issues between Mexico and the United States. I would discuss what I thought were the major and minor ideas of the article and state restate these on the board using the two column format. Then, I would "thinking aloud" about these ideas and why they were chosen, which I would write in column two.
I would then instruct the students to do the same on their own with the second article. We would discuss the results as a group and compare what the students thought of as major and minor ideas and why they chose them as such.

Source: "Subjects Matter, Every Teacher's Guide to Content Area Reading" by Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman , page 118.