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This grounded theory study explores how middle school literacy teachers used dialogue journals and the processes by which they responded to their students' written responses. Literary conversation between teacher and student was conceptualized as an ongoing scaffolding process within dialogue journals. Teachers used "response facilitators" including visual aids, modeling, questioning/requesting, and feedback independently and in combination with one another to scaffold literary conversation with students. Every response from a teacher had a place on a response continuum, fluctuating between instructional responses and conversational responses. There were times when the teachers' roles called for direct scaffolding, focusing on developing students' literacy understandings, and other times when the teachers joined the discussion as an equal, giving students more freedom to experience literature. Although the full potential of dialogue journals has yet to be realized, this study suggests dialogue journals provide an effective means of individualizing the literacy development of young adolescent learners.

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