Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reading Records and Revision Histories

Hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers, link up your Slice of Life 
on Tuesdays throughout the year. Today my slice grew from a moment on the steps leading in the classroom to a moment where I reflect on one way readers are accountable in my classroom. 

Lunch is over. I am standing on the second step of three at the door to my classroom. I'm watching students stream toward the field of portable classrooms. My eleventh graders have started to arrive and as I stand on the step I can hear them chatting, checking the board and settling in before the bell rings. 

A students approaches me to talk about our Reading Record. We've just begun using it for  the year. 
"I don't know what I did, Miss Spillane," she begins. "But  I went on the Reading page last night and I don't ..."
"No worries, ___. I saw it. I don't know what happened either but all of the students' names in first period were gone. They were period 1, period 1, period 2, period 2 instead," I said.
"I know! I don't know what I did."
"That's okay. Because I knew how to fix it. We discovered it this morning, so  I went  into the revision history and I restored the file. It's all fixed. No worries."
"Oh thank you! I didn't even know you could do that..."
Many of my students have never collaborated on a document before, nor are many familiar with excel spreadsheets (yet). The "restore this version" command in the revision history has saved us more than once since I shifted our record to a shared digital document. Students are amazed when I reveal that bit of Google magic--they are even surprise to see that the record is color-coded by user in the revision history.
You can see Angelika adding her AP World reading in the purple cells

We've set reading page goals using a version of the process Penny Kittle describes in Book Love

My thinking and notes on pages 28-29 of my dog-eared copy of Book Love.
We read in class for a set amount of time. Students then write a quick retelling/summary on an index card so that I can assess their comprehension. Speed is only one component of reading fluency. If students are not able to accurately retell what they read then I need re-assess. I used a variety of books for the initial assessment--some students chose and were already reading, others we pulled from the shelves. They were all titles I'd read. After students jotted a quick retelling, we calculated how many pages can be comfortably read in an hour. Then we we calculate out how many pages we can read in two and a half hours (my expectation). That becomes students weekly reading goal which we track on the reading record. 

In class that day, I read ten pages in six minutes. So my formula to calculate pages per hour is ten times ten. My goal for two and a half hours of reading is two-hundred and fifty pages a day. Every student has an individual goal. There is some overlap but the range in my tenth grade IB classes runs from seventy-five pages per week to five hundred; students assessment snapshots (standardized testing data) support or validate our rate assessments. This year we also calculated words per minute (just for fun).  We  compared our words per minute rates to silent reading normed data I'd dipped into.

from Hiebert, Wilson and Trainin (154)

This year for the first time, I researched silent reading rates and book formats and publishing. Kittle describes  the reading demands of college and she uses that evidence as she frames reading's importance in her book and in her work with students. I do too, but because I'm familiar with oral reading rates I wondered about research on silent reading. So I've been on an explore.*

I discovered that different formats or layouts of trade books have different word counts per page. Students and I talked about that. We also talked about how textbooks, especially those required in my students AP or IB classes, are denser in terms of words per page. We talked about how students could balance required textbook reading with choice-driven, pleasure reading. They must do both if they are to thrive as readers. At the same time, I want students to know that I value all of the reading they do, so they can record their assigned textbook reading on our record too. It counts.

Our version of Atwell's "Status of the Class" is a shared Google spreadsheet where students note what they are reading and the page the left off on. The record serves a few purposes. It becomes a reading history over time. It holds students accountable and much like exercising in a group, we see what each of us are doing. We can support, cajole and encourage each other. More conversations begins as students note pages that I could recount.  Student readers and I can review genre preferences, reading preferences or even reading demands (as students note more than just pleasure reading on the record). It become a rich data stream for me to assess readers in my room 

It takes less than five minutes once students understand how the document works and can readily access it on the Google Sheets app or online at their groups desktop. Once used to the routine students can get the pages noted in less than three minutes--it's a quick transition to our next instructional segment.  Once a week, students calculate how many pages they read and total it in the colored-coded column. We track our progress and talk about where we are doing well and where we are facing challenges. 

At year's start our calculations are clunky, but once students understand the formula they are subtracting their starting page numbers from their ending page numbers and adding across books read quickly. It is one quantitative measure of what students are doing. Over time it provides data we use to make reading plans, set goals or stretch ourselves. It also provides data I bring to data meetings with my principal.

None of the numbers, none of the qualitative data we examined together measures up to the power of story in students' lives. What matters is that students read and read and read and read.

Initial pictures of readers in the room. We're in the middle of a 30-month renovation so the shares
look a mess as I've been packing to shift and move.
*I've only just started looking (so it will be another post in the future). If you want to see the studies I'm using as a springboard, find them herehere and here. I found over and over the 250 words per minute as a "usual" reading rate for twelfth graders (Taylor). 

Works Cited

Atwell, Nancie. In the Middle: New Understandings about Writing, Reading and Learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998.

Hiebert, Elfrieda H.; Wilson, Kathleen M. and Guy Trainin. "Are Students Really Reading-Based  in Indepenent Reading Contexts? An Examination of Comprehension-Based Silent Reading Rate. in 

Revisiting Silent Reading: New Directions for Teachers and Researchers. Elfrieda Hiebert and Ray Reutzel, Eds. International Reading Association, 2010. 

Kittle, Penny. Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina and Passion in Adolescent Readers. Portsmouth,NH: Heinemann, 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Spreadsheets are a mystery to me, but the real beauty of this post is that your students are so engaged in their reading. I love the variety of books they're reading, too. Thanks for sharing this process, Lee Ann!