Reader Response Journaling: How the Light Bulb Switched on in One Classical Classroom

Luckily, there is a simple and effective way for classical educators to improve comprehension: reader-response journaling.

Several months ago I was completing the finishing touches on the second edition of Timeline of Classics when I met a new friend, Donna Seidman.  As I explained the new edition, she became more and more excited!

Classical Education

After spending a semester refining the methods I described to her, these are Donna’s observations:

I teach 6th and 7th grade English classes along with Classical Studies at a hybrid-style charter school in California. I became aware of Timeline of Classics earlier this year and was excited to implement it in my 7th grade class.

Being a traditional class which was used to worksheets and simply answering questions, students were:

  • challenged to consider the material
  • learned to summarize chapters, and
  • were required to make inferences and assessments of the text

It took about three weeks for students to get really comfortable with the process. However, once that occurred, the light bulbs went off.

Students who typically performed poorly on standards-based worksheets, had sparkles in their eyes. They were able to finish assignments and understand the material, yet be creative. They loved it!

Some students doodled in the margins and some illustrated what they “saw” in the story. When we progressed to the next novel, nearly all the students asked to continue the dialectical journaling we learned from Timeline of Classics.

Having spent many years teaching Classical Conversations in several nearby communities, I have found this an incredible resource for Classical literature resources. As students are studying history memory work or timelines, Timeline of Classics is the perfect supplement for families to use across the board, from very young to high school and beyond.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent scouring the internet for sources, fiction, time periods, etc. only to find that I missed a great source. Timeline of Classics is exhaustive. If I were to start homeschooling all over again, Timeline of Classics would be one of the essential books I couldn’t live without.

Donna Seidman

Gorman Classical Academy, Gorman Learning Center

Former Classical Conversations Challenge II Director, Challenge B Director and Practicum Speaker


If you’d like to know more about reader-response journaling, please check out our second edition of Timeline of Classics!  For a sneak peek, download your copy of the journal for The Magician’s Nephew.

Questions? Contact me!


Sample Pages

Preview Timeline of Classics

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2 thoughts on “Reader Response Journaling: How the Light Bulb Switched on in One Classical Classroom

  • admin

    Hi Linda, you can do a simplified journal with very young children! Keep things fun by allowing space for doodling or coloring. If your children are too young to write, then you could be their scribe and write down their thoughts and ideas and then let them illustrate. The goal is to spend time together around good books and to interact as much as possible in a meaningful way. There is a detailed description in the appendix of Timeline of Classics which explains how this type of journaling might be done. I hope this is helpful!

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