Sunday, October 2, 2016

Why I Don't Do Reading Logs

We were at dinner the other night with good friends of ours when the topic of reading logs came up.  Our good friends have a first grader, who up until this year, loved to read and excelled at reading.  My dear friend then brought up, "Since school started and he has had to do these reading logs, I have just seen his passion and excitement for reading die down and now he hates it".  I proceeded to pry a little more to find out what exactly he was having to do on these reading logs.  Every night, this student has to read for 20 minutes and then record at least 4 words that he had to use his decoding strategies to sound out.  I sat quietly for a moment, and then asked her, "Are you going to talk to his teacher about this, because at the core of what is happening, your child is being turned away from reading." I don't know how this situation will end, but it made me realize how much I dislike reading logs.  There are a number of reasons why I personally choose not to use reading logs in my own classroom.

  1. They are not authentic- I want my students to see themselves as readers and readers do not record every word that they needed to decode when reading.  Although decoding is a great skill that readers use, meticulously recording every word is not something that readers typically do.  I would say the same thing about answering comprehension questions, filling in information, or any other mundane tasks that go hand in hand with reading a book at home.
  2. It interrupts their reading- It doesn't matter if students wait until the end to record their word or answer or they stop in the middle of their reading to record what every they are working on, it interrupts their reading.  When we are working on fluent reading, building stamina, and really practicing those more challenging strategies, we do not want our students interrupting their reading with tasks that are more or less aimed at holding them accountable.
  3. It takes the fun out of reading- We are working on learning to read every day in our classroom.  We work on learning to read through shared reading, guided reading groups, independent reading, writing... it really is an all day task.  Whens students go home, I want them reading proudly with their families, showing off their new skills, building their identity as a reader, and building an understanding that reading is enjoyable.  These things do not happen when we are asking them to log words, answer questions, or do other tasks that take away from the pure enjoyment of reading.
  4. They typically aren't differentiated- Education has come so far in differentiation by reading logs are typically a one size fits all, which doesn't grow readers.  In this particular case, the student completing the reading log does not need to be recording words he is decoding as a reader.  He has outgrown the need to record them, and now needs something more challenging. When I think about the students in my own classroom, not every single student is working on that skill, so why would I want them focusing on that at home via the reading log?
  5. There are other ways to hold students accountable- I've heard many teachers say, but how will I know they are really reading at home?  Easy, they will get better at reading in the classroom if they are continuing to practice at home.  You will see small steps, small strides in their reading daily, weekly, monthly, if they are really reading at home. They will be coming to reading group recalling new words, reading with fluency, having better understandings of text.  And, if they are able to enjoy the books they are reading at home, they might even want to tell you about them at school, check more out from the library, and even write about them!
The last thing I would ever want to hear is that a child is my classroom feel out of love with reading because I asked them to complete a mundane task instead of simply become a better reader by reading.

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