Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Homework Discussion...Nightly Reading

As I was preparing to go back to the classroom this summer, I spent a lot of time thinking about my beliefs.  One of the areas I spent a lot of time thinking about was homework and nightly reading.  I just read an article from ChoiceLiteracy that contains a script of a conversation between Franki Sibberson and Kathy Collins about literacy homework.  Kathy points out three main categories for homework: communication, exploration, and reflection. I also spent a lot of time reflecting on a blog post by Patrick Allen titled,"Repent...At Reading Homework Taketh Another Look..."

At the beginning of summer I had a post on taking a closer look at independent reading.  One of the areas I was excited to try was a reading graph approach to reading logs. I really wanted students to become more self-aware of their reading choices and trends.  I anticipated that the students would need support and a visual to sort through a traditional reading log and reflect on their reading.   So...I decided not to use the traditional log for home or school and use a graph.  I use Status of the Class to keep a tab on their daily reading, but that is something I record, not the students.

Now that it is almost, oh my gosh, the end of the first quarter, I wanted to reflect on how the graph approach was going and what I was noticing about my students' reading since I was not using a traditional reading log at school or home.  All I ask is that students read at night and then they are encouraged to bring the book in the next day.  Books are written on the graph only when they are completed, sometimes multiple times due to the categories at the bottom of the graph.  Here is what I have noticed...

1.  Without a home reading log and by doing Status of the Class, my students are communicating more and more about their reading....what they are reading, why they are reading the book they chose, listening for books to put in their Next Stack, and so on.  I feel like our room is always buzzing with conversations about our reading lives.

2.  When a child celebrates a completed book, they write the title on their graph and show the graph to the class.  Students are talking about what they notice about the trends in their reading and others reading.

3.  Midway through the quarter my students took their parents on a "Reading Tour" of their reader's notebooks.  Together, the parent and child, set a goal for their reading and put it on the graph.  I sure did learn a lot about each child as they shared the goals that they had set for themselves with their parents.  For example, some wrote..."to try a new series"...other families wrote "to try a mystery book or a book by Avi".  

4.  At the end of the day, I am constantly hearing a buzz about which book they are taking home.  As we write, "enjoy a book" in our planner, I am immediately swarmed with thoughts from students...EACH DAY :)  
"I am going to take my book home from school because I am going to be sitting at my brother's practice." 
"I want to take my reader's notebook home because I want to preview a book so I can just read during reader's workshop tomorrow."  
"Can I borrow Babymouse tonight because after ____ shared I am really interested in it." 
Reading plans, reading plans, reading plans!!!!!!

5.  As far as assessment, had to say it :), I can tell you right now what each child is reading and what their goal is because I can visualize the graph in my mind.  Half way through the quarter, I also put a new category on their graph.

So...so far...I am amazed at the impact of a simple graph!  I am currently trying to brainstorm the categories that I need to collect information on second quarter from everyone and I will be asking the students to decide which goal they are carrying over to second quarter.  Hmmmm...more thinking on that one!



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