Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reading Logs & Reader's Response

“Exposing students to lots of books and positive reading experiences while building a network of other readers who support each other provides students with tools that last beyond the classroom setting.” 
-Donalyn Miller Reading in the Wild

The above quote comes from one of my all-time favorite author and teacher, Donalyn Miller. She is a lover of books who can inspire a class full of reluctant readers to fall in love with reading. Her passion for literacy is contagious for every child she teaches and every teacher that reads her books or hears her speak. Her idea is simple: students are readers and our job as teachers is to awaken the reader in each of our students. She builds relationships with her students around literature. This idea is what inspires me when working with readers every day. In addition to providing adequate time to read in class on books of their choice, students should be given time to respond to their reading.


First, let's address the issue of reading logs. Our principal wrote a great memo about reading logs in this week's newsletter: 

Gaining a New Perspective on Reading Logs

Reading Logs have long been a way to monitor that students are getting the recommended number of minutes each night for reading. It has been typical to have students read for 20 minutes per night and log the title of the book and have a parent sign to verify. Keeping the purpose of encouraging daily reading in mind is essential.

Depending on how the reading log is monitored, it can have a counterproductive effect. Students (and parents for that matter) who see the reading log as a chore, may end up dreading nightly reading and limit themselves to the required 20 minutes rather than reading for pleasure or to gain knowledge for even longer periods of time. Additionally, parents too often sign the reading log without discussing the literature with their child.

How do we mitigate these negative effects? First, avoid having a parent “verify” the student’s reading minutes. Second, opt for a reader’s response journal in lieu of a list of titles. You can allow titles only, but encourage responses, questions, and connections to what the student is reading. Third, conference with students about what they are reading (or even the lack of reading) rather than just having students turn in the reading log for compliance with the practice. Also, facilitate classroom discussions and book sharing. Fourth, and finally, help students find other books that they will enjoy by knowing what they like to read and giving suggestions for other books or series. Motivation to read is the goal! 

-Dr. Lacei Koffi

It's not necessarily bad to have students record their reading on a log, but it does depend on the purpose behind having them keep the record. Is it informing you on their reading patterns? Are you referring to in during conferences? Are they recording their reading inside and outside of school? Are they keeping track the types of books they are reading?  Reading logs can be used for so much good but once it becomes a chore and is not used productively to inform you on their reading patterns, it is useless. 

Suggestions for using a reading log productively in class: 
  • Keep a running list of books read in the back of their reader's response journal. This will help save paper and give them a place to keep track of the wide variety of titles they have read this year.
  • Record titles read during independent reading during class and at home. 
  • Keep a log on an anchor chart of books you have read together as a class. 
  • Don't require a parent signature. Engaged readers will want to read outside of class without the feeling the pressure of the required signature or time limit. Trust your readers to read.
  • Use the logs to set goals. If you notice they are sticking to a particular genre, help them branch out to try others. If you notice they are often abandoning books, figure out why they haven't been able to find one interesting enough to stick with. Use the logs to inform your conferences and set goals with each student. 
  • Help students keep track of the genres they have read. Download a free genre graph from TPT here. Download monthly graphs and more from Scholastic here.


Next, our goal should be to help readers think about their reading. Logs keep track of the time they are spending reading and the books they are choosing, but do not tell us about their thinking. Readers response allows students to respond to books. This could be done at home after reading, after your read aloud, or after their independent reading time.

 In the picture above, this 2nd grade teacher had her students read independently, discuss their book with a partner, then write a response. She modeled a reader's response in a mini lesson, gradually releasing the class to independence.  

The picture above is an example of reader's response in a 5th grade class, responding to a whole-class read aloud. This teacher chose to provide several different prompts (or questions) students could respond to. Students had a choice of which question they thought would reflect that day's reading. 

This student keeps his "Reading Bingo" (or reader's response sheet) on his desk while he engaged in independent reading. He is able to freely respond throughout his reading time. The teacher uses this to conference with him about his reading.

This Kindergarten class responds together to their reading using pictures. 

Reader's response is a great way to get kids thinking about their reading. There are MANY ways to students can respond. Don't feel like you need to "assign" them a way to respond; simply provide options and let them be creative! 

Ways to Respond to Reading: 
  • Free write about what you read
  • Do a book talk or book commercial to advertise your book to the class
  • Write a book review
  • Create a story maps
  • Create a character web
  • Make an illustration that reflects an important part/scene 
  • Summarize the reading (Somebody Wanted But So Then)
  • Write a letter to the author or character
  • Create a billboard to advertise the book
  • Create an alternate ending
  • Write a play from the storyline of the book
  • to create a word cloud
  • Create a comic strip from a section of the book
  • Write from a different character's perspective 
  • Retell the story with all essential parts
  • Write connections you had with the book
  • Write questions you have lingering after reading the book
  • Write what you learned from the book (nonfiction) 
When it comes to homework and reading, create readers that desire to read at home. Avoid making reading a chore. Allow them to respond in creative ways, demonstrating their learning through a variety of media. Readers don't need to respond every single day to their books. For homework, I asked my 4th graders to read each night for 20-30 minutes. On Fridays, they each chose a way to share what they read (mostly through book commercials or projects). It allowed students to share suggestions for books to other students, to think critically about their reading, and to read outside of school. 

What do you do for reading logs and readers response? Comment below to share all of the wonderful things happening in your classroom!


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