In my second grade class, part of my reading block includes 30 minutes of independent reading/partner reading/listening to reading (depending on their reading levels) and then responding to their reading in reading journals.
Each day of the week a different table is assigned to turn in their reading journals to me. That day is visible on the sign hanging from above their table. They know it is their day, so they place their journals in the blue bin on the corner of my table. I use those day of the week signs for so many different things in my class, but that topic might need a post of its own. :) Click here for the free download on my TPT store.
My responses are only about 3 sentences long. Most of the time my response includes a question about their response, just to get their thinking to go even deeper. The next day they get their journal back. They really do love opening their journals to see what I have said back to them. Then they have until that same day the next week to create a new response.
To change it up a bit, some students each week get to type their responses on the computer and print them out. Then they glue them in their journals. It's a great way to include technology and keep things interesting for the students. :)
I created response menus for my students' journals. They are half sheets that are taped inside the front cover of their journals. Once they use a response, they cross it out.
This current packet of responses are sentence starters. I am also in the works of some menus that include other types of responses.
Head over to my TPT store to get the Menus!