Instinctively you know that keeping a record of performance in an area you want to improve is a good idea. But how does that transfer to a student's reading skills? Keeping reading logs can help you, and your students, to measure their progress and motivate them. If students keep their own logs, they can see for themselves how far they have come. It's one thing for a teacher to give encouragement (it's part of their job), but it's another for a student to realise their own progress.
A reading log needn't emulate a journal, complete with thoughts and feelings that the reader has, but it can. The main thing is to record what was read. However, if the student is receptive to the idea of exlploring the reading material, then why not set them the task of venturing into the realm of reflection? Mor eon this later.
The Basic Reading Log
At a basic level, logs chart not only the number of books read, or time spent reading, but they record a diversity of genres and book types (picture books etc). This kind of log records hard facts. Student X read 10 pages of Tom Brown's School Days on 24th January and it took them 20 minutes. That kind of thing. Typically, you will want to capture the following information:
- student's name
- date of reading
- book title and author
- time spent reading
- how many pages were read
Depending on the age of your children, you can make reading logs fun by allowing them to illustrate each entry.
In addition to recording reading activities, it's important to review logs every once in a while. This is especially true from a motivational perspective.
Using Reading Logs To Explore The Material
Reading logs can range from simply recording what was read, to encouraging more in depth explorations of the reading material. You might promote reading comprehension with your reading logs, if you ask your students to write a synopsis of each book read. Or, ask that the synopsis be related to the reader's life and experiences. Doing so not only encourages reading, but also pushes the idea of thinking about what is being read. Consider the following questions you might give to your student:
- What did the reader think of the book, and how did it relate to them?
- How would they feel if they were involved in the story?
- How did the reader's feelings change as the story unfolded?
- Why did they like certain characters and dislike others?
- If you were the author, would you have changed anything?
- Does the story leave you with any questions you could ask the author to clear up?
- Would you ask any of the characters a question about their actions/thoughts/feelings?
- Was there anything that confuesd you (language, plot, character's behaviour)?
- What are your favourite parts - and why?
- What did you learn from reading the book?
- Would you like to read more books like this, or more books by the author - why?
As you can see, there is much room for exploration. Encouraging this kind of discussion can inspire interest and engagement in readers. To be able to address the above questions, the reader really needs to pay attention to what is read and think a little more deeply about story lines and character development than they otherwise might.
Get Creative With Reading Logs
Keeping reading logs need not be confined to boring old paper based records. If your student is excited by the "digital age", what about helping them set up their own blog? Parents may find it easier to devote time to creating blogs for 2,3 or 4 (or 5, 6 or 7!) kids, whereas time is more limited for teachers. However, if you know what you're doing (and we do), teachers will find clever ways of taking advantage of the benefits that blogs bring.
The safety of our children is of paramount importance, and you can effectively shield their blogs from the outside world by creating them on your shool'd intranet. Doing so would mean that these blogs would only be accessible by other members in the class/school.