Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Reading Log Conundrum

There's been much written about the use of reading logs in classrooms today.  Personally, I can say that I'm not a fan of requiring students to read and fill out the required form. Where I teach, using a reading log is a nonnegotiable, meaning every student regardless of age has to complete one daily. For the upper elementary students, a summary must be incorporated with their log. Our district has a semi-standards based report card. One of the 5 broad standards that students must meet in reading for each grading period is "independent reading." The reading log is linked as the way to measure whether or not a student has mastered that standard. If a child has completed his/her reading log at least 75% of the time during a grading period he/she has been considered as mastered that standard.

I know there are all kinds of problems with that method. I've been wrestling with this for this entire school year. I've been trying to discover a new way to have my students reach that standard that the administrators will approve and that will provide the documentation that students are reading independently.  It has been a challenge.  I'm also trying to reinforce the love of reading as that has also been a thanks, I'm sure, to this whole reading log issue (Many other teachers are reporting the same behaviors in their classrooms). I have students who (now) love to read, especially graphica. I'm having to remind them to put it up when we are engaged in another activity. However, these students will not turn in a reading log. To them there is no correlation to what they're reading, which is fun, and the reading log, which is not. They'd rather receive a zero and keep reading their self-selected reading.

So, here is the plan that I intend to pilot at the end of the school year to show my administrators. I'm hoping for their approval for next year in lieu of the dreaded reading log. My students spend a lot of time writing and  reflecting on their learning across content areas. We are going to move our reflections over to blogs. As with all our writing endeavors, I'm going to have my students form a  rubric and guidelines for blogging.

One aspect that I hope to guide them into including is whatever they are currently reading. With the comment options, I'm hoping to encourage students to share what they are reading and encourage commenting upon one another's reading choices...making connections and having real discussions. It takes the static, one-sided reading log, and gives it relevance. There's an audience. There's a purpose for their writing and reflecting. The blog turns their literature reflections into a book discussion where they can share the exciting things they are reading, whether it's a trade book, a novel , or a comic book. It will give me the documentation I need to meet the standard while the actual requirements will be set by the students, not by the school, giving them back the power in how they publish and express themselves with the literature.

If anyone has any other ideas, I'd love to hear them. I've felt like we were between a rock and a hard place with this reading log all year. Keeping our fingers crossed! Wish us luck!

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of having the students write about what they are currently reading. It emphasizes enjoying the journey rather than getting to the end. Just heard Doug Reeves at NAESP, and he talking in no uncertain terms about the power of non-fiction writing to raise student achievement. Good luck and keep us posted!