How do your students log their reading? What’s the best reading record? I really love the one we use.
The first thing I like about it is the space to set a goal. When I pass them out on Monday, they get their last record sheet returned with my comments. They use that information to “raise the bar” for themselves and set a goal for how they want to improve their reading in the next two weeks.
The goal should be able to be measured by the information on the reading record. When you look at the reading record, you should see evidence that you met it or did not. “Read more” is not a good goal. Change that to “read a page per minute” or “read at least 40 pages per day” or “complete 2 books” or “read at least 5 nights at home” or “increase pages from 30/day – 40/day”. You can point to a place on the record where that goal was met.
After they have a goal, we focus on recording the pages they read each day at school and at home. It is so hard for 6th graders to write on this every day. It takes a daily concerted effort to reinforce them writing on this every day. You as a teacher have to be totally and consistently committed. You have to make it a contest like, “Ok. You have 60 seconds. Let’s see who can get their pages written on their reading log during this minute!” Then you have to walk around giving them a stamp or sticker or some kind of immediate reinforcer. Sometimes even candy or a drawing for a special note home helps.
You can also reinforce the importance of the daily information on the reading record when you do Status of the Class as they start their reading time. Instead of having them tell you the usual book they’re reading and page they’re on, you could say, “Take out your reading record. When I call your name, I want your daily page average for the last 3 days.”
About every other day for status of the class I weave in there something from the reading record, so they are having to use the information on their record, hearing how their information compares to their peers, and seeing it as something that is valued.
You can use the reading record in partner share as well. Ask the students to take their partners on a tour of their reading life by telling the story of the information on their reading record. Choose people to share with the class as well. Again, they are seeing how they compare to their peers.
You have to do daily things to emphasize and reward the importance of the information on the reading record. You can’t just pass it out on Monday, take it up on Friday, and expect it to be all filled in. That’s not going to happen.
Reflection at the end of the two weeks also has to be reinforced as a necessity. I project these reflection questions for them to answer. They will try to just write, “Yes,” and turn that in. You have to hand it back to them and say, “This is a great start! You have room to answer a few more questions here. Keep reflecting! Tell me more!”
When you grade it, you know from the reflection and the data exactly who you need to conference with and what about. You’ve got that detailed data to help the students set their next goals and track and measure their progress.
And since we’re talking about grading, I take formative grades on some of this information along the way. I even argue that the reading record could be a summative grade. This is what we work on every day: goal setting, reading every day, keeping track of your reading, learning to get in the reading zone, reflecting on your progress, increasing volume. If you take formatives along the way: one for a measurable goal, another for average daily page rate, how many stars do you have, how many books have you read, then the record as a whole with the reflection could arguably count as a summative.
The students keep their graded records in their folder and use them to reflect on the 9 weeks grading period as a whole. They look at things like, “How am I changing as a reader?” “How does my most recent record differ from my first record?” “What were the goals I set last 9 weeks?” It is powerful for them to see how much progress they can make in such a short time. It motivates them for the next grading period.
What’s measured grows. The information on a good reading record empowers students to set goals and watch themselves continually grow as readers.