What do I LOVE about Reading Logs?
Reading logs are a staple in my classroom, but I may use them differently than many other teachers. If you use a reading log or are thinking of creating one, you’ll want to consider these tips.
Here’s how I use reading logs to assess more than just time and pages read.
1. First, I have made my reading response log versatile
This is in part because it has two sides: one is for the details that happen in the reading; the other is for student commentary about the reading.
See the blue writing on the concrete detail side:
The second side is meant for higher level thinking. Students write their commentary about certain aspects of their reading.
See the red writing in the photo below:
2. I Change Reading Log Topics Based on My Focus for the Week
Note the box on the top right of the log where there’s a list of different topics for the week. The feature I love most about my reading logs is that I can change them EVERY WEEK! I have a spot for either the student or the teacher to write in prompts. So one week we may be focusing on setting while the next week our focus is theme.
I can also create only one prompt per side for the week so that we really target a specific concept.
3. I Make the Reading Log Focus on What I Want to Assess
Since I teach social studies as well as language arts, my reading logs often include prompts about our reading of ancient history. So one prompt or side may focus on our reading novels and the other may target our textbook reading. I LOVE this feature!
Here’s yet one more facet of using a reading log that I’m thrilled with: I can grade several subject areas at once. Each week I grade writing skills and also a reading content area. On the bottom of my reading log I have a grading section for each of the subject areas. I train students to notice each score in addition to an effort score for the week. (see photo)
The formative assessments (aka entries on the log) are easy to grade, and I can have a quick conference with students who have shown that they need more direction.
4. I Modify My Reading Log Activities Based on Student Need
I keep my reading logs easy to modify. I always provide options for
• Larger writing spaces
• Reduced workloads
• Easy opportunities for teachers to write in sentence starters
• Easy opportunities for teachers to write in larger portions of the writing so students only need to fill in several blanks.
• Reduced expected reading time or page goal for the week
There are endless ways to modify.
Here’s how I change up the reading logs on certain weeks:
• Change the writing prompts. See the lists of categorized reading prompts below.
These make it SO EASY to target your goal for the week
Other ways I change it up:
• Take off the “Pages Read” box
• Keep one side regular and the other side I may copy a graphic organizer, an interactive page
like “Design four apps you’d find on the main character’s cell phone” Below are a few options for keeping your reading response activities fresh and engaging.
Sometimes I’ll excuse one entry if the first one is done on time and meets the requirements. Students love this incentive, and frankly, there are weeks when I don’t need to assess something, but I want to keep students reading and writing.
• Offer choices so that students staple on the page they prefer for the week.
• Ask students to draw a timeline of events we’ve learned about in social studies this week or the past month.
You can see how the reading log is flexible and can change along with your curriculum.
Here’s My Weekly Reading Response Log Schedule
I hand out reading logs on Wednesdays and collect them the following Wednesday. This allows teaching time for each prompt, which is really necessary at the beginning of the school year. It also allows students to read over the weekend because there are times (and sports seasons) when kiddos are overscheduled for their week.
Here’s my typical schedule for reading response work:
- Collect the log due today (see Wednesday below).
- Go over response log with students.
- Students write names, period, etc, and dates for when each portion is due (there are 2-4 portions, depending on my goal).
- Go over the work for today/tonight (usually it’s concrete detail #1).
- Begin the writing response with the class (especially the first month of school). I like to work on a reading log each week in front of class. Usually it’s based on a read aloud that I’ve done or a short story we’e analyzed this week.
- Review the directions.
- Quick check yesterday’s work (concrete detail #1). Note complete/incomplete entries.
- Have a quick meetings with those who failed to complete the portion. Review Thursday’s work (usually it’s commentary #1).
- Begin the writing response with the class (especially the first month of school). Continue writing about the piece of reading you and the students have in common.
- Hand back graded logs from yesterday. Review. Allow time for questions and revision. (See my comment below on a fun activity to do BEFORE handing back corrected writing).
- Quick check yesterday’s work (commentary #1). Note complete/incomplete entries.
- Quick meetings with those who failed to complete the portion.
- Quick review of Friday’s work (usually it’s concrete detail #2).
- Begin the writing response with the class (especially the first month of school). On Fridays, I may allow more time in class to complete the written response because, after all, it is Friday!
- Remind students of their reading response work that’s due Wednesday.
- Review the work for Monday (usually it’s commentary #2). Often, I’ll save the more complex prompt for Monday since students are fresh.
- Allow time for work/questions.
- Begin the writing response with the class (especially the first month of school).
- Quick check Friday’s work (if I didn’t do it on that day).
- Quick check yesterday’s work (commentary #2). Note complete/incomplete entries.
- Quick meetings with those who failed to complete the portion.
- Review the work they’ve completed. Go over what it should look like.
- Allow time for students to revise writing. There’s no reading prompt on Tuesday night. This is where they can catch up, revise, have parents/guardians look over it (and sign it if required).
- Before collecting the response logs, project your example version.
- Since I teach 6th grade, I like to have kids touch the different components on their log to ensure completion. Even things like names, underlined titles, punctuation, time totals. The more you go over this today, the less work you’ll have to do when grading the logs. See this blog post for engaging ways to revise writing. I use these techniques discussed in the post on Tuesdays in my classroom.
- Finally, collect the logs.
- Hand out new logs.
- Start the Wednesday routine.
This Wednesday to Wednesday timeline also allows me to grade the reading logs either Wednesday to hand back and revise on Thursday or grade Wednesday and Thursday for handing back and revising on Friday. This way, a limited time has passed between the work handed in and students looking at their scores.
Keep It Fun (especially when asking students to revise writing)
One thing I love doing on the day I hand back graded logs (before students see their scores) is I show one or two slides from the hilarious Grammar Fail resource from Tracee Orman. Find it here.
So there you have it: this is why I LOVE my reading logs and still regularly use them in my classroom. Check out my Reading Logs for the Entire Year resource, and have your plans set!
I LOVE knowing that
• I can target a concept needing more attention or assess something we’ve practiced
• I can grade three subjects on one log
• I can modify the workload as needed without much work on my part
• Students learn correct sentence structure for responding to prompts
• And much more!
I’d love to hear about your favorite reading response activity!
I’m teaming up with some fabulous bloggers this month. Check out the links below!