Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alternatives to Reading Logs

I am passionate about a great many things in the teaching field (if you haven't noticed that already). One of those things is reading logs. I loathe them. I very much understand keeping kids accountable for what they read, however, I feel like there are better ways to do that. I attended an all-day training today that was only focused on kids' independent reading skills. It took a lot of self-control not roll my eyes too many times! :)

The common recommendation is that students either keep track of the minutes they read or the number of pages. This is not even a take-home log, this is in class. We had a school-wide competition last year and students had to track their pages. Questions came up like do they count the pages with just an illustration-because they are not reading words on those pages? Do you count the title page-because those are words? So as they read they counted pages. *sigh* All those strategies we teach them for comprehension and they are focused on a timer or counting.

They also advised in the training that every day when they read independently, there has to be some worksheet or graphic organizer filled out about what they read. Why? If they are reading a chapter book, for example, they have to stop after a chapter to fill out a flow chart instead of spending what time they have actually reading? I am a slow reader already-you know how much that would slow me down if I had to do that?

So what are some alternatives:

1) Blogs-using Kidblog or another blog site you could easily set it up so kids can talk to each other (and you) about what they are reading. I liked the beginning of the book because they started a mystery. Or I didn't like how the author....Authentic responses to reading and collaborating on those discussions with others-does it get better!

2) Book trailers. Many classrooms (or the classroom teacher) have at least one ipad nowadays. Use a program like imovie and have the kids create a trailer for their book. They have to decide what music sets the proper tone. How they are going to summarize without giving too much away.

3) Advertisements-make paper ads for the books. What better fodder for a library bulletin board. They can entice their friends to read certain stories.

4) Make PSA's based on what they learned from the characters. How many kids' books are about character traits like kindness. Have the kids make a public service announcement based on what they learned people should do. A book like Wonder for example, obviously it would be an anti-bullying campaign. Something like On Meadowview Street-how to help the earth.

5) Book club prompts. Have the kids track how many students have read the same book and when you have about 4-they can meet and have a little book club discussion. Each child can write a question based on how the story spoke to them. It's something that takes a little bit of modeling-discussion prompts like "I understand what you are saying, but I actually disagree with that". It's an amazing thing to watch when they get going-it often generates better discussions than book clubs I've belonged to as an adult! :)

6) Talk to them! I can tell just by asking them if they liked a book if they read it or not.

I think we do too much to take the joy out of reading for the kids. They are relegated to reading passages instead of books. They have to comment on every part of a book they read. They have to time themselves or count pages. There are other ways to make sure they are reading. Let them enjoy that time! :)

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  1. Love this! Thanks for the alternative ideas!

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! I'm not about adding "school stuff" to what kids are doing. They need more real world stuff like what you're talking about.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Completely agree-sometimes I think we just do things out of habit. Maybe they all did reading logs as a kid! :)