When we read Fahrenheit 451, I have the students (8th grade) write a response to each of the parts, right after they have read it. I encourage them to let it be stream of consciousness about their reactions to the story, the characters, the ideas in the book. I want them to follow tangents and connections that pass through their brain that have been inspired by what they have read. I encourage them to NOT write about plot, but responses to the plot. I encourage their honesty, their questions, their courage to be in dialogue with the reading. They are not graded on the quality of the structure of their expression or even on grammar. The main purpose is to get them to find some sort of fluency between the thoughts and feelings inside of them related to what they have read and the paper in front of them.
The photos above are of my favorite one this year. This is a writer to watch out for. This is especially enjoyable if you are familiar with Fahrenheit 451. I know it would not be a shock to you to know that this student is a consistently creative and passionate voice in class discussions. (Her reflections for Parts II and III are equally as creative and powerful and demonstrative of a very good reader.)
I love my job.