To Kill a Mockingbird Dialectical Journal

To Kill a Mockingbird Dialectical Journal

To Kill a Mockingbird Dialectical Journal

We will begin a thorough study of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird this week. Although we will read a portion of the novel in class it may be necessary for you to read at home as well. In order to participate in class discussions and activities it is mandatory that you keep up with the reading. While you read you need to add entries to your dialectical journal, detailed below.

What is a Dialectical Journal?

A Dialectical Journal is a journal in which a reader records a mental conversation with the text. Use this journal to:

  • Summarize and question
  • Read closely for details, images, figurative language
  • Write analysis and make connections
  • Document quotes
  • Make inferences about characters, symbols, etc.
  • Ponder thematic essential questions related to yourself and the text

How should I set up my Dialectical Journal?

1st:Label the left page in your journal with the current class date. This is where you will be responding to a thematic prompt. Most of the time this will be done at the beginning of the class,prior to reading. You will also write the prompt at the top of the page before responding. 10 points per prompt/ ~160pts

2nd:Use the format below for setting up the right page of your journal for each chapter.

This is how you will set up each page:

Chapter #: Title goes here
(the chapters are not titled; you will create your own title after reading)
Text and main ideas / Response: Reactions and details
Quote goes here – you may quote a phrase, sentence, or section of the text. Blend this quote into a sentence. Also include proper parenthetical documentation (Author page#)
In this section, record quotes that contain unique examples of author’s style, figurative language, new vocabulary words, thematic moments, character and plot development, etc. / Your reaction goes here – opinion, question, comment, reaction, etc.
This reaction should be real, candid, honest, and school appropriate.
Summary and thoughts from chapter (minimum 5 sentences)
Write response here for summary and thoughts from end of chapter…..


Chapter 1: Boo Rumors
At the beginning of the chapter, Scout narrates, “when enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident” (Lee 3). / Who had the accident? Does this foreshadow something that will happen in the novel? Does this statement reveal the author’s purpose for writing the novel?
Summary and thoughts from chapter (minimum 5 sentences)
Write response here for summary and thoughts from end of chapter x 5 sentences

Your journal should contain a minimum of one passage with corresponding response for each chapter. Each text and response will be worth 15 points for the total assignment approximately 400 points. Points will be deducted on the TEXT side for failure to accurately document and complete according to the model provided. Points will be deducted on the RESPONSE side for superficiality and incompleteness.

Set up the page –

Fold each page so that the line runs from top to bottom (lengthwise) OR draw a line down the middle of each page.

Label the left side as “TEXT”

This side of the page is for direct quotations, citations, summaries, and / or clear references to the text. Copythe part of the text you are responding to using proper format:

“Always put quotation marks around what you copy from a book. Then place the author and page number in parenthesis after the quote” (Monahan 34).


-A quotation does not need to be dialogue (something a character says).

-Do not let the length of a quotation keep you from selecting it. The important thing is that the quotation makes you think.


-Make note of metaphors and allusions

  • What is the comparison?
  • How does it contribute to the themes and philosophies of the novel?

Label the right side as “RESPONSE” –

These fall into many different categories. Some options are:

-Ask questions you would like to pose to the author. Since the author can’t answer you, you will have to write the answers yourself.

-Make connections between the quotation and whatever it reminds you of from some previous reading, viewing or living experience

-Rewrite the quote from another narrator character’s point of view, or provide what you think another narrator or character’s perspective on that quotation might be

-Identify the element of plot represented in the quotation. This might be done in a diagram (plot pyramid or chart) or written out.

-Counterarguments to the quotation you have chosen

-Personal narrative connecting the quotation to your own experience

-Prediction of how the piece will end – what it will lead you to believe

-Analysis of one passage and its relationship to the meaning of the story as a whole

Summary – Write a brief summary of your observations, reflections, and questions at the end of each chapter.

What if I am absent during a class discussion?

You will need to read any notes from the class discussion (you can borrow them from a friend). You will need to turn in a paragraph per chapter of discussion that was missed. This paragraph should contain your personal comments, reactions, questions, and different things that you noticed while reading plus the date that you missed class.