Adventures in Literacy Land: reader's logs

Showing posts with label reader's logs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reader's logs. Show all posts

Ditch the Reading Log for At-Home Reading!

Welcome, Literacy Land readers!  It's Lauren from Teacher Mom of 3 here today to share a follow-up to my post on reading logs. You can read that post here.

In this previous post, I shared why I am not a big fan of sending reading logs home for independent reading. As teachers, our goal is to create life-long learners and readers; that's why we want our students to read at home.  To nurture and foster little readers, we first must motivate them and help them develop into "wild" readers, as Donalyn Miller would call them.  We also want our emergent students to practice their reading at home AND enjoy doing so.  In fact, we want this for all of our students.

Boushey and Moser ("The 2 Sisters") share the work of Guthrie in the second edition of The Daily 5:

Motivating students, especially reluctant readers, to read at home is 
a precarious act.  We need to give them choice in what they read and remove any barriers that may hinder them.  My advice is to ditch the reading log!

However, there is always the accountability piece. Are the children reading at home?  If I don't require a reading log, will the parents and students still take the reading seriously?  How will I know if they are reading at home?  

Instead of emphasizing the reading log...
  • At the beginning of the year, communicate with parents and students that the expectation is that they read at home.  Suggest they read "x" amount of minutes per day. Explain to parents why this is critical to reading development.  Recommend that parents do not set a timer and that reading can be completed in "chunks" during the afternoon and evening.
  • Allow for as much choice as possible, not only in what a student reads, but also to whom they read.  Students can read to a younger sibling or to a stuffed animal.  Students can read to their parents or with their parents.  For some of my kindergarten and first grade students, I suggest that parents read to their child if their son/daughter is having difficulty (either from being tired, the book is too hard, motivational and behavioral issues).
  • Most likely, you are keeping some kind of documentation at school to record the books students are reading.  So, to send home a reading log is kind of repetitive.  It is hard, but I really believe that we can relinquish control to the parents and students and trust that they will read.
  • Allow students to briefly share their at-home reading in a small group, in a journal entry, during a conference, or during a morning routine such as a morning meeting, or morning work.  When I taught reading intervention, I would have students volunteer to share their their reading from the previous evening as we were waiting for students to arrive.
  • If you ask students if they completed their reading, they will be honest- most of the time.  I'm sure we all have done this, but use the sports analogy with students who are not reading at home.  That is, to get better at baseball (or dance, art, playing an instrument), they need to practice.  The same with reading. Plus it is fun!  If it's not fun, then we as teachers will work on motivating our little ones.
  • You can have students as young as kindergarten give a Book Talk on their at-home reading.  For older students (3rd and above), I have used Book Talks where the purpose was for them to "sell" the book to their peers.
  • Allow students ownership of a classroom reading log so they can see their progress and celebrate how much they have read both at school and at home.

  • If you must have documentation that the child reads at home, consider using a calendar where all the parent has to do is sign their name.  My second grade son's teacher has a book mark for the week.  Each night he reads to me, and all I have to do is sign the paper.  No timers, no complicated reading logs!

So, instead of a reader's log for at-home reading, I suggest teachers spend their precious time and energy on motivating students to want to read, selecting the right book, and becoming independent readers.


Reading Logs: A Parent's Perspective

Hi Literacy Land readers!  It is Lauren from Teacher Mom of Three.  Today I am going to try and take off my teacher hat and talk about reading logs from a parent point of view.   This post is an opinion post to generate thinking and discussion. 

The reading logs that I am discussing are the ones sent home to document a child's reading at home.  They usually are in chart or calendar form and require the parent or child to record the book title, pages read, and/or minutes read, as well as requiring a parent signature. Sometimes they are counted toward a reading grade or homework grade.

Now, a little preface to my post so you know from where I am come.  I have been a teacher for twenty-six years and a mom for twenty-two years.  Throughout my teaching career, I have utilized a reader's log in various forms over all grade levels as a classroom teacher and as a reading specialist.  As well, my oldest son is now twenty-two, and he was required to complete a reader's log throughout most of his school career.

There is no disputing that students of all ages need to read at home to become better readers.  You can call it reading practice, independent, or recreational reading.  We all know that to be a better reader, kids need to read.  A lot.  And they need to read both at school and at home.

Ok, now that I have put my parent hat back on, I will say that from my family's perspective, the reading log does not promote authentic reading, nor does it create life-long readers. But let me get to the why.

Why Reading Logs Should Not be Emphasized
  •  First, many times the completion of reading logs is tied to a reward, whether it is a grade or a prize.  Sometimes students are rewarded for the total number of minutes read.  In this case, the incentive is extrinsic, not intrinsic.  Intrinsic motivation creates lifelong reading,  Extrinsic motivation is short-term and the motivation to read becomes not about reading for enjoyment, but rather to earn an ice cream party or a good grade.
  • The log is usually a form of accountability to document whether students are reading at home for the required daily or weekly minutes.  I understand that teachers need some sort of accountability.  I also understand that not all students will complete the reading or have a log completed. Sometimes even teacher-moms forget.  At least this one does.  We get so caught up in the reading, that many days pass and no one can remember how many minutes Noah read last Tuesday.  All that Noah knows is that he finished his book and he can't wait to read the next one in the series.

        Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, believes that students will read if you give them great books. She doesn't require her students to keep a log for at-home reading. Teachers must help students to find books that they can get totally engrossed in.  Books that the students want to take home.  Books that are of interest to the students and books that the student has chosen herself.  There's two points here that I want to make. 
  •  First, when students must document the minutes read or pages read, this can and does interfere with reading.  It sets up an artificial reading experience. not an authentic one.  Students and parents have to remember to set the timer, reading magically stops when the timer goes off, and someone has to document the minutes.  The reading experience can become tedious and frustrating.

  • Second, many researchers, including Miller and Kelly Gallagher, author of Readicide, emphasize that teachers must, must allow time for reading in the classroom throughout the day.  Both understand that for many students they may not have a support system at home to encourage reading or a parent available to sign the log.  When I taught middle school, many of the students came from single family homes with the parent working night shift.  The students had to remember to make arrangements for parents to sign the log before the due date. Seems like they should be responsible, but these same students were the ones caring for younger siblings and in charge of making dinner and other chores.  Sadly, reading was not a priority in the home.  Staying safe in high-crime neighborhoods and caring for younger siblings was the priority.  Reading logs aren't going to change that.

  • The goal of education is to create life-long learners and readers.  The log isn't going to do that either.  For my sons, they read because they find it interesting and enjoyable.  The reader's log gets in the way.  We end up estimating exactly how many minutes they read because I will not have them or me running to the timer.  I do not want to communicate to them that reading stops when the timer goes off or when you have read 10 pages.  It's unnatural in this setting.  Real readers don't set the timer.  Real readers read in bits and chunks throughout the day. I don't document every time my boys read.  I can't.
  • And the reason I can't is because very early in the school year, they got the impression that reading is about completing the log and racking up the minutes.  "I want to go the ice cream party".  "I want the special tickets".  No, I had to gently remind them.  This is not what reading is all about.  I want my discussions with my kids to be about the book, not how many minutes or pages they read.  We read for enjoyment and to learn not for recording minutes.

So in my house, the boys logs are completed each month, but I don't emphasize them.  My boys read much more than the required 15 minutes a night.  They read at breakfast, when they are bored, in their beds at night, in the car, and when their Lego magazines arrive in the mail.  The reader's log did not create these "wild" readers.  No, not at all.

Stay tuned for a second part to this topic where I will discuss my ideas for alternatives.

What are your thoughts as a parent and/or as a teacher?