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Last year was my first year in 2nd grade. I think I learned more than I taught. In April or so, decided to give each student a notebook. One side of the book was theirs, and the other was mine. My mini-lessons offered them strategies about how to "talk back to the books they were reading". Although I never told them they had to use any given strategy, I must confess I used my "teacher-as actor" tricks to nudge them to do so. I made it clear that how they responded was completely up to them. I brought their notebooks home. I was blown away! Many stroked my ego by using what I gave them. Many used their own creative approach! (I've even stolen some of their ideas to use with this year's class- don't tell!) And, if that weren't enough- their journals became a great assessment tool. Paperwork and organization are problematic for me. As I read their journal, I would make notations on my side of the page about who needed help with what (decoding or comprehension). I wish I would have selfishly kept these journals for myself. I'd surely pull them out after those days when I feel like I was ineffective!