Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reading Logs

When our journey began with the America's Choice School Design, we implemented internationally benchmarked performance standards. One of the reading standards included students reading 25 books a year. The standard, supported by research that students need to read one million words a year to be proficient grade level readers, was immediately embraced. However, before the implementation of the standard or the kick off event with students and parents, there was much discussion. How many minutes should a student read in one day to attain this standard? How much of the reading would be done at school and how much at home? Would we count books read aloud to students or just books they read independently? What systems would be in place to hold each student accountable? How would we reward students that successfully accomplished the goal?

As we set forth, in the early years, toward our 25 book campaign, we had each student keep a reading log, and some teachers had students respond to each book. (I know, it makes me cringe to say it aloud, too.) And, as the years passed, we continued discussion on the purpose of the standard and got further from responses and closer to the heart of the standard--a student's avid reading.

Now, ten years later, I still have a teacher or two that asks me each year whether reading logs are required, and if they are, what we expect to be included as part of the reading log. I know if they ask me the question, they've only implemented out of compliance rather than commitment and are still grappling with the true purpose. Whenever I'm asked, I think about myself as an avid reader. Presently, I don't have a reading log and I've read so many titles and authors that I'm beginning to accidentally purchase the same books twice, especially if I'm ordering on-line. I know, now, that it's time for me to keep a primitive book log, one where I record the date, title, and author, just so I have a record. Of course, for my purpose it will be a book log that travels with me forevermore.

Lucy Calkin's, in A Guide to the Reading Workshop explains,

" The log is a record of the book title, the level, the date, the reading place
(home or school), the page at which reading began and the page at which reading
ended, and the minutes spent reading. At the start of each reading workshop,
children pull out their reading logs and record the page number at which they'll
start the day's reading, and they record the start time. Then, at the end of the
reading time, readers record the number of total minutes spent reading and the
number of pages read. As a teacher moves about the room, this makes it easy to
notice that in, say, seventeen minutes of reading time, a particular reader may
have read fifteen pages (which is what you'd expect) or four pages (which would
lead you to want to do some further research). Children, as well as teachers,
study the data.

The reading log is used to analyze trends in a child's reading and share celebrations. If a teacher wants to give next steps, Lucy suggests, "The conversation needs to occur far from any discussion of the written record." Accurate data keeping is needed in the student's log so it displays an accurate picture of the reader. If the reading log becomes the checking spot of a conference, then fabricated data may become the norm.

With Lucy's explanation, you can quickly see that the reading log is used to inform instruction, as well as discuss books with children. What it is not, is a record tool to simply hold students accountable.

Teachers, I'd love to hear your thoughts about reading logs. Do you use them in your classroom? And, how do you feel about them?


Maria Mallon & Cheryl Dillard said...

Our students post their books on the class book log wiki. Many log their own books in and are very proud of their accomplishments - seeing the 25 or 30 books logged each quarter. I think it is a great way to see what books the students are reading and to have a dialogue with them about their books online in the "comment" section. Some students read a chapter or two a night of a book and that is fine too. Getting children in the habit of reading for knowledge and enjoyment is the purpose. Knowing what genre they like to read gives us an insight to our students interests and a point in which to start our "book talks" with them.MM

Dee Dee Tamburrino said...

I haven't yet purchased the same book twice, however, I have done so with a 500-piece puzzle or two.

In my world, my students would be required to keep a "practice log" for the same reasons.

Melanie Holtsman said...

My problem with reading logs is that the kids that I could use some more information on are not typically the ones that keep up with it at home and the ones that keep one are not usually the ones I don't know as readers. Instead of expending the energy it takes to have kids filling out logs, I would much rather observe and talk with my students as readers. I can tell by observation how much they are reading in class. I can tell by the fact they are still reading the same book for a long time, that they are not reading at home much. I don't think keeping reading logs are worth the time and energy for students and teachers. That's just my opinion and style of teaching. I'm not against a teacher using them if they really help her with her teaching, not just for accountability.

Michelle Ellis & Debby Cothern said...

We do not send home a log in Kindergarten or 1st grade. We have always felt this is a tool the parents use but not the students. At the end of K we begin using them after Independent Reading, but really we only used it as a record keeping tool that we did nothing with. Your post has me thinking, why should we do it this year if it is just a recording tool. Thanks for giving us something new to consider.