The reader response journal should serve more as a tool to assist you in reading works from The Norton Anthology: American Literature than as an assignment for me to grade. It will help you to read actively, as a participant in a conversation with the text. You will use it to record your thoughts, feelings and ideas – your reactions to the readings. A record of such reactions teaches you important analysis skills, but without the punitive consequences of a check for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I will assess mechanics skills in your essays and exams, but not so much in journal entries, which again serve you, not me.
When I grade these I will check for two qualities:
1. Length – each entry should be at least one typed page.
2. Analysis – you must not, under any circumstances, summarize the text. Assume I’ve read the piece. Don’t tell me the story, poem, essay, etc. all over again. Instead, react to it – talk back to it – in your own words. However, you must refer to details from the text in order to convince me you’ve read.
You should have one typed journal entry per week. You may respond to any of the readings assigned for that week, but I recommend only taking on one reading at a time so as not to dilute your response. Don’t try to respond to everything. You learn more by focusing – by both zeroing in on and by deeply exploring a single text.
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