|Reading in class last week during second period.|
|This cover reminded me of Koch's The Dinner which I loved last year. |
After talking to the reader, I knew I need to snap and save it.
I talk with students each week about reading journal entries. I have time in my forty-seven minute class period to confer with about half the class a period. I alternate weeks, so I confer with every student in class once every two weeks . Others, who need or request it, confer with me more often as time allows. While students are reading I am either conferring with readers in class, observing readers, taking anecdotal notes about books and readers or reflecting by writing about the reading my students are doing. I look at the Reading Record each week, but with more than one-hundred students, I do a quick look.
Tracking students' weekly reading on our Google spreadsheet has gone awry. Our Reading Record is a digital mash up of Atwell's idea of a Status of the Class and Kittle's differentiated page goals recorded weekly. Our first quarter ends this week, so I have been doubling back looking at the books and weekly page totals students recorded on our Reading Record in order to give students a grade for independent reading this quarter. I have noticed several inconsistencies in how students are recording what they are reading. I've been matching those inconsistences with what I know about independent reading and readers.
I thought about accountable talk (Harvey) and how high school students fake or avoid reading (Tovani, Kittle). I thought about how teachers use writing to assessing reading (Reif, Gallagher). I even considered the behaviors readers exhibit in the wild (Miller). Sometimes an issue surfaces in a particular class that can only be solved in the community of that classroom. As Richard Allington has said, research shows: "kids are different." The fun in teaching is figuring out what works for the readers in your room.
This quarter, on our Reading Record, some students:
- note the page number they end on each day that they record reading their novel.
- note the total pages they read that day whether in their novel or in a textbook.
- are only reading their textbooks.
- are not calculating their total pages correctly.
The Reading Record frustrated me enough that I knew we needed to talk about it as a community.
I printed out a sample page of the Reading Record, names removed, some titles altered. I re-calculated some of the totals in the total column and had the math right there in the column for students to see.
|I added the column of textbook reading and tried to see who was recording what in terms of textbooks; I also refigured much of the math or added the 0s to note where pages were not totaled. To be clear, students do no receive zeroes as grades.|
We examined the data. We talked about reading and why it is important.
Pleasure reading is homework in my class. When students read only textbooks (homework from other classes) they are not doing the work they need to do to improve as readers. They are not doing the homework for our English class. Reading two to two and half hours a week, a book of students' own choosing, is one of two weekly homework assignments in my English class. When students say they "don't have time to read." What they may be saying is "I am not a reader."
We talked about the inconsistencies in how students recorded their reading work. I asked students to propose solutions. Students offered a variety of solutions: re-teach a standard recording format, keep titles and pages in our reading journals (and not on the shared spread sheet), keep a log that parents sign (No way, I wanted to cry out!), take AR tests instead (Yes, a student suggested that. I listened when I wanted to mount a rebuttal). My idea is to discontinue tracking pages altogether.
I thought about triangulation, anecdotal records, eaves dropping and kid watching (Goodman). We did not come to consensus on a solution for next quarter yet. I am confident that we will.
If my end goal is to get students reading--reading widely and often, books of a variety of genres, books that increase in complexity--in order to build stamina and skill. Then does counting pages read each week get us there?
Perhaps another question is does tracking pages students read each week help me assess the readers in the room in the most efficient and authentic way possible? Maybe. Maybe there are better ways I can keep my eyes on readers.
The Reading Record, over time, provides a rich reading history. If it's accurate. I can say a lot about a reader who's habits I have traced over weeks and months.
If it isn't accurate, then it's all smoke and mirrors. If students are working to comply to get a grade-- instead of falling in for books and gobbling up stories-- then we have failed.
Reading opens doors of opportunities. High achievement, high test scores (today's currency when it comes to college admissions these Pre-IB students crave) are a natural consequence of reading life. I tell students that
What do you think? I'm sure my students would appreciate hearing how you would solve this problem with our Reading Record or how you and your students monitor and or track their reading.
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Atwell, Nancie. The Reading Zone. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2007.
Gallagher, Kelly. Readicide. Portsmouth, ME: Stenhouse, 2009.
Harvey, Stephanie and Anne Goudvis. Interview: "Read, Write, Talk." Portsmouth, ME: Stenhouse.
Tovani, Cris. I Read It But I Don't Get It. Portsmouth, ME: Stenhouse, 2005.
Kittle, Penny. Book Love.Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2012.
Miller, Donalyn and Susan Kelley. Reading in the Wild. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass, 2013.
Reif, Linda. Inside the Writer's- Reader's Notebook. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007.