Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Matching Records to Performance

Hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers, link up your Slice of Life
on Tuesdays throughout the year. 

My students read self-selected texts for ten minutes or so each day in class. Our default is reading. When we finish work early or find a few spare minutes, books come out and students (if they are real readers) sink into story. My real readers steal time to read. You know the types. We could be doing anything else and that particular reading is holding a book like an illegal electronic device just below the table to read on the sly. 

I love catching those readers. 

It is April. We have five weeks left in our year together. Five weeks is one half of one quarter of  the year. My students wish we had five days left. Don't you wish we were a week into summer already? Somedays I do (because we're going to the Grand Canyon!) But most days I gasp at how little time we have left.   As students begin to anticipate the end of the year, they sometimes fall away from routines and systems we established early on.

At least I hope that is what is happening. I hope the problems I'm seeing with readers in the room are some kind of post spring break, post standardized testing miasma that will run its course without a long course of antibiotics or other official treatments.  
This shows four students records over almost two weeks. I don't mind if students want to record a
 book once they have finished reading the entire book, but I am coming to realize that it does not give us
 an accurate picture of how,  when or what they are truly reading. 
We track our reading progress using a Google spreadsheet that students and I share access to. Our Reading Record has worked well to capture pages and titles of books students have read. I wrote about how I digitized our status of the class here. I've been notice a change in how students are tracking their reading on our Reading Record.  Suddenly I have students sampling books from the classroom library yet recording entirely different titles on their Reading Records.

 I see students browsing books, but talking about the weekend or talking about their lunch or an outfit or upcoming officer elections. Usually, I hear book talking at tables. Usually, if students are reading, that accountable talk, as Stephanie Harvey calls it, bubbles up. Readers in my classes will spontaneously recommend titles to each other or they share opinions books to movies, movies to books. That sort of talk is happening much less and the behavior of the reading herd seems to have shifted.  The conversation has taken a turn away from books which makes me wonder about my readers and the records we are keeping.

My big take away today is that a status of the class is not enough to monitor the readers in my room. I have to find ways to confer with them, to talk to them about the books they are reading and to listen in and capture the talk I hear them sharing with their peers (about books other topics).  I need to be more systematic in how I confer and keep my anecdotal notes about the readers in my room. That's my goal for the remainder of this week. Time to get back to it!


  1. This feels like a common theme in April. I feel like it is good that you are questioning the "reading behaviors" Sometimes at this time of year, or anytime the routine starts too feel too routine, so as not to be effective, it can be interesting to shake things up somehow, even in a small way. . .

  2. Wow, your school year ends early! We just began our last quarter, but it already feels as though not enough time is left. I do think that the last few weeks is a wonderful time in which to try new things out. Especially ways to track reading lives.

  3. Good luck with your goal! We are doing our standardized testing next week.

  4. I think I need to work this out, too. Our year has been so start and stop, I have let my focus drift. And I see kids trying to fake read again. :(

  5. I've been talking with the teachers of our older students all year about this, Lee Ann. We've read Book Love together, and brainstormed different ways to keep track, motivate better, and they find still that talk is what keeps the students accountable, talk with peers as much as with teachers. At this time of year, there is a change. Everyone gets so busy, too with end-of-year activities. It's tough. Hope all goes well for you.