Dialectical Journals

Have you talked with your text lately?

The Definition

Dialectical Journals are, quite simply, a vehicle we can use to have productive conversations with and about the texts we read. The format of the journal allows you to extract evidence that is important to you and to record your thoughts about it. These thoughts can be coded, but we'll get there in a minute.


Ultimately, the goal of the dialectical journal is to get you thinking about what you're reading. If you don't enjoy participating in class (and I know who you are), this a good way for you to practice having a conversation about reading. Additionally, when it does come time to have class discussion, you'll already have some pre-recorded thoughts in your journal that you can use as a springboard to make you more comfortable.

The Format

Your journal is a living document, meaning it's always changing. You will create your journal in Docs and share it with me directly so that I can assess your progress and occasionally score you on what you have completed. Your journal should be formatted in three columns: the left column is the evidence from the text. the middle column is the page number, and the right column is a place for you to put your thoughts about what you've read.
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The Codes

(C) Connection: How do you connect to the text? (text-text, text-self, text-world)

(CL) Clarification: What do you need the author to clarify? What complex ideas can you put into simpler terms for yourself?

(E) Evaluation: What judgment can you pass on any part of the text?

(P) Prediction: What will happen next?

(Q) Question: What questions do you have pertaining to the text?

(R) Reflection: What are you thinking? What questions have been answered?

The Scoring

Your dialectical journals will be assessed based on their quality and not their quantity. By this, I mean that I'd rather see you go into depth with a few pieces of text evidence no than to satisfy a precise text evidence requirement with less-than-stellar thoughts. Each journal needs to be an accurate survey of the text, meaning you need to choose evidence from the beginning, middle, and end. For this reason, I would aim for no fewer than five (5) pieces of evidence. You do not need to make use of each of the codes for each piece of text. You may find that you have a lot of questions about a text but nothing needs to be clarified for you, and that's okay. In terms of quality, think about what we addressed with the thoughts in the chart above; it's great that the reader is making a connection between the two texts, but a little more information is necessary to understand what ideas formed that connection in the first place.


A separate rubric outside of this document will be shared with you.