Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oh, reading logs

Last night, my third grade friend had this sitting with his homework folder:

I can't believe teachers think this is good practice.

I had never actually seen one in the wild before.

I've known this third grader his entire life. The bookstore knows him by name. He and his sisters will sit still and listen to piles of books. He acts out Elephant & Piggie for his youngest sister. This piece of paper does nothing for him as a reader.

I didn't say this to him, of course, but I said it to his parents. It's bad practice. It doesn't tell his teachers who he is as a reader, and he's hardly likely to master vocabulary or understand character because he filled in all the lines in a box. The assignment is about the log, not the reading itself. This can only have a negative impact on his identity as a reader. I will prescribe more Babymouse videos as an antidote.

Yesterday in 8th grade we worked on independent reading responses. I'm never where I want to be with this. I love writing back and forth with students about what they're reading, but I inevitably end up far behind in responding. I never want this to be a glorified reading log, but I do want them to do some thinking about what they've read, and I think it's good practice for literary analysis in high school.

My plan this year is to ask for one response each week, about one single-spaced page in their notebooks. Every student has a sheet of mailing labels filled with a variety of prompts. They can stick the prompt at the top of the page, add the title and author (and number of the response) and tell me what they're thinking. This doesn't replace conferring. This doesn't really tell me if they read the book or not, actually. But I think it will be an important part of what we do in class.


1 comment:

  1. I struggled with this every year. In fact, I still struggle with it along with some of my friends who try to do better in their classrooms every year (like you do). There's a delicate balance between response notebooks being useful tools for helping kids learn to think deeply and critically about their reading and being reading-logs-for-big-kids.

    Good luck.