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Writing Across the Curriculum
Long Island University/Brooklyn Campus
Department of Teaching and Learning, School of Education
TAL 801 - Issues in Urban Education 
Fall 2005 - Section 003 - Professor Kathleen Kesson
Office:  P-236  Hours: By app’t.
Phone: (718) 488-1388 (office)  Email: Kathleen.Kesson@liu.edu


A reading journal is a place to record your thoughts, feelings, impressions, musings, meditations, analysis, and questions about what you read.  It is something in between a personal diary and a notebook of facts about a subject.  When you write about what you read, you increase your chances of remembering it, understanding it, and developing the capacity to ask meaningful questions about it.  Reading journals will be used as the basis of class discussions, and you will occasionally be asked to share your writing aloud. 

In a reading journal, you should aim to make connections: intra-textual connections (within the text itself), inter-textual connections (between different books or articles); text-to-course content or class discussion connections; and text-to-self (personal experience) connections.  Making such connections will extend your thinking about the topics under investigation. 

Copying passages word for word and reflecting on the meaning of those passages is a useful way to enter more deeply into the text.  You will sometimes be asked to do this.  Occasionally, you will be given a writing prompt, or a choice of prompts, to which to respond.  Try to get beneath the immediate “surface” of your reaction to a text, notice the different pathways that your thoughts follow in response to a text, and then choose the path that promises to take you, conceptually, to a new cognitive space.  It’s ok, in your journal, to express doubt, skepticism, confusion, and questions about what you read, or even to express contradictory thoughts.  It is by writing that we really find out what we are thinking!

Your responses to the readings might also include:

  • Listing of unfamiliar vocabulary, to be clarified in class
  • Concepts that need explanation/elaboration
  • Analysis of author’s point of view
  • Interpretation of the author’s intentions in writing the piece
  • Posing alternative interpretations
  • Pointing out limitations in author’s thinking
  • Questioning the logic of an argument
  • Opinion, based on personal experience
  • Significant learnings from the text; ideas that caused you to rethink your own assumptions
  • Application of the ideas to your own practice

Reading journals entries will be collected at the end of each class session and completion recorded.  Journal entries cannot be “made up.”  For an “A” for this component of the course, they need to be thoughtful and complete. 

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