A while back, I wrote about our school's nonnegotiable practice of requiring every student to complete a reading log and how I felt like it was counterproductive to a student developing a real love of reading. Here's the original post. Since then, I've had quite a few people question me about that blog and request an update.
As I wrote earlier, my students started off the year blogging. One of the expectations that my students designed was that their individual blogging would replace the dreaded reading log, among other things. In fact, most of them have taken to it like a fish to water. A few others have needed to have a bit of encouragement that their voices were important enough to be heard.
Now, I realize that I have a totally different set of students with totally different needs than my previous class. However, this is one of he most diverse classes that I've been fortunate enough to work with. With that in mind, I want to share with you what I've observed.
When my students complete an activity, project, or assignment, they are much more likely to pick up a book and read. Shortly after they've read a few minutes, they ask to use the computers so that they can blog. (As an aside, the students don't have to ask me to use the computers. It's a hang over from previous years.) When I finally asked one of my students about their willingness to read as often as he was, he said, "Well, in my last blog post, I told about what was happening in my book and made a prediction. Three people commented on my post and asked me questions. I had to find the answers so that I could answer their comments."
My students have discovered what has escaped so many, well-meaning educators: Having an interactive conversation about a book, even through writing, provides students a reason to read and write. It's so simple really. How many of want to share something great we've read with others? Isn't that what we see so much of on Twitter? How about all of the book clubs that people have? All of those speak to the fact that we like to talk about what we've read. We want to share our discoveries with others. It's real, it's relevant, and it's fun!
...and as a side note, I'm finding a ton of new books to read, all reviewed by my 5th graders!
So is it working? Absolutely! However, if at any time it doesn't work, my learners know that we will stop, have a discussion, find a solution, update our blogging expectations, and move forward. I love that my students have taken such ownership of their reading, writing, and blogging. It's exciting to see every day.