The majority of my day for 2014-2015 is spent on language arts instruction for fourth and fifth graders with specific learning disabilities, autism or other health impairments. While each student has unique needs, they are all most definitely developing or struggling readers for whom independent reading holds little allure. Last year, in an attempt to promote more independent reading and connect my students to other readers and reading models, we did a “Reading Challenge.” Look for a post here one day with more about the challenge under the category of Community and Communication.
We recruited adults from home or school to join our reading team and students were responsible for checking in with the people they recruited and adding any titles they and their recruitees finished reading to our challenge board. The results were mixed. Some students were talking about reading, but it was more about the number of titles and not the actual reading. Also, some students got frustrated with how long adults can take to finish a book. I was mortified when one of my students asked our assistant principal how he ever even got past middle school if it took him so long to read a single book.
So when I was moved into a smaller classroom without a large space to maintain the challenge board, I decided to do reading logs that focused more on the time spent reading and responding to questions about the reading. Another teacher gave me a nifty little format that I photocopied and made into little books for each student. I reasoned that by focusing on time spent reading and not number of titles that I was leveling the playing field a little. I hoped that the parent signing it would result in conversations between student and parent that focused on what was being read. And yes, I thought that instilling the responsibility of taking care of the reading log was important and was even excited that it could be something to add to a gradebook!
I know, you are cringing. They are a mess! It’s an EPIC FAIL on my part. They are falling apart for even the students who still bring them and are responsible. One student took a reading log and never brought it back ever. Then the second one I gave the student was lost never to return as well. Then, when I got new students, making a reading log for them is time consuming! Remembering to check them and add the totals to our bar graph to show how much time we’ve spent reading is such a chore!
Changes are happening soon!