Students connect with a text when they are able to relate the content to their personal lives and make deeper, more personal connections.
For Tuesdays with Morrie, this is incredibly easy, since the story from start to finish deals with topics that relate to anyone’s life: death, pain, friendship, love, forgiveness, student-teacher relationships, mentor-relationships, fear, trust, and living life.
To start the book, I wanted my students to connect to the topics. After introducing the book, I had the students read the first 15 pages on their own for homework. The following day, I created this journal assignment to go along with their reading.
The questions for this journal were meant to be easy, but personal, allowing for the students to see how the book could connect to their own lives. [To view the document, click here.] I also posted this to the Google Classroom website and provided a means for students to upload their journals electronically.
I have to say, I was at first disappointed with what I received back from the students. There really wasn’t a lot of effort put in. Some students sent back 2 sentence responses! So, the following day, I made them redo the assignment for homework. [Tough teacher, I know!] This time, however, I provided a rubric. This was my way of making expectations clear and accessible for students as they revised.
When I received their journals back, I was impressed!
Here is a student example of someone who wrote well. I was impressed with her ability to not only answer the question fully, but to also give enough detail to make the situation real and vivid for the reader.
For students that chose not to revise, or that didn’t revise to my rubric expectations, they were not as pleased with my grades. However, in making my expectations clear, I was able to grade the journals honestly and show students what I expected from them in similar, future writing assignments.