The Great Lie: Reading Logs

photo of a boy reading book
Photo by mentatdgt on

Reading logs; we’ve all done them at one time or another so this isn’t about shaming. This is about acknowledging the fact that it’s a big lie, a sham. Educators, parents, and students all participate in this lie. We, as educators, assign 20 minutes or pages of reading each night as homework. Students go home, and in general, ignore that aspect of homework. The parents sign off on the reading log, knowing their child DIDN’T read so that there are no consequences at school. Finally, the reading log comes back signed, the teacher is fully aware the child is NOT read at home and ignores that fact because, ‘Hey, the Reading Log is signed.’

Let’s just stop lying! We are doing the child no good by participating and promoting the lie. In fact, we are encouraging them to lie and teaching them ‘How to school’. So now that the first step, acknowledging the problem, is out of the way let’s move on to the next step: solving the problem.

One year at Back To School Night I gave this speech. I first asked parents who had knowingly signed their child’s Reading Log with the full knowledge that no reading occurred. At first, there were many nervous looks. Fortunately, one brave soul raised their hand which led to others admitting to participating in The Great Lie. I then told the room of parents that there would NOT be any Reading Logs. THAT got an applause! It was a relief to those in attendance. One parent even thanked me! What a great way to start the year!

Educators have no control over what happens at home. There are many circumstances that lead to the student not wanting to read at home (or ever). So let’s focus on what we DO have control over; that is our classroom. If we want students practicing and taking a vested interest in reading give students time to read in class. I know, sounds obvious, right? But where to start?

Recently Jen Roberts shared some of her classroom tricks with TLC.Ninja. She strategically monitors her students reading. She gives her students time to read a book of their choice (not their Lexile level or AR level). She can quickly scan the room daily for engagement. She also has them fill out a quick form every 10 days or so to further monitor their progress. She is in control of what happens and can check in with students for any guidance they might need. Check out the Episode for full details.

Another idea is to have students do a Booka Kucha. Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo have created several Eduprotocols that can be used no matter the topic. Booka Kucha can be given to all students no matter the book they are reading. YOU are in control; YOU are actively monitoring.

Heather Marshall has some fun, quote inspired ideas. One idea is to play Game of Quotes. No matter what book the student is reading, their task is to find a quote that fits a given prompt. For example, students are tasked with finding a quote about “Something you wouldn’t want to overhear in the restroom.” The students look through what they’ve read to find something. Once they have a quote, they announce that they, “Have a quote.” Each student reads their quote (they could easily write them on Socrative or a Padlet) and votes on the best one. She also has her students doing Sketch Quotes. So many great ideas!

These were just a few ideas to help get you away from Reading Logs and into more meaningful engagement between your students and their books. I’d love to hear what you do! (And please don’t say AR!)

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