I love books and discussions that get me thinking. I naturally reflect on my own teaching practice and I’m happy to ponder why something should or shouldn’t be done and what is ‘best practice’. Reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller brought up ponderings for me about my literacy choices, most pointedly when it came to the idea of reading logs.
Last year I had an evolution of reading logs. I moved from using a paper version to an e-version. I made this switch for a few reasons.
Why kill trees?
I had Googlified my class and using a Google Form was an easy alternative.
I hope to get to teach 1:1 some day and in preparation for that dreamt eventuality I look for what I would change.
All of these led me to utilizing e-logs.
This fall has brought a further evolution to my thinking and practice. In her book, Donalyn Miller questions the purpose of reading logs. Yipee! A chance to ponder and reflect!
Is the point to have homework?
To make students read?
To be an authentic record of reading?
Hopefully we are looking for the latter, but probably with a dash of ‘let’s make sure they are reading’, but does it work? I know I have students who fill out their log all at once, sometimes even in the hall as it is due.
So, does a reading log actually serve as an authentic tool? Is it something you use as a reader? I don’t. I do not keep track of the number of pages I read each day nor the minutes read. I do keep track of books I’ve read and so do my students. Why would I ask them to do something different then what I find helpful as a reader? So I threw them out, both on paper and virtually.
I had a very frank conversation with my students about their reading and their logs. I told them that I required a reading log for the first month of school as a way to help them establish good reading habits at home. They told me how and when they were filling out their logs. The logs, for most of them, were an artificial record and not a motivator of reading. We realized that we all read because they want to know what happens next, not because of a log that is supposed to be filled in. I made a deal with my students. If they promise to read every night I promise to not give them busy work or an artificial assessment. I also made the logs available to those couple of students who do find the accountability helpful. I also emailed the parents to let them know of the change and the reasons behind it. I now have a room full of happy readers and no reading logs.