I have been struggling with the best way to implement independent reading into my 10th grade classes since I began teaching, and while I believe I am improving on some fronts, I still fail on others.
For the past two years, I have used readings logs for my honors classes. I ask that they read 400 minutes in about a month (to begin). What I found with that (since I don’t require parent signatures) is that many students just make up the time spent reading and never actually pick up the book.
Last semester, I implemented Kelly Gallagher’s reading conference idea, and it went very well (though I still have some improvements to make). Basically, students conference with me on a weekly basis about what they’re reading. I ask them about how many pages read, where they left off, etc. I write down everything in a notebook where I give each student a few pages for the semester (we’re on block schedule, 90 minute classes).
My accomplishment with the reading conferences was that I got to know students a lot better and what they like/don’t like to read. Students were eager (after they realized it wasn’t a witch hunt) to talk about their books and ask for suggestions. It was actually fun!
My failure was that some students’ reading logs didn’t correspond to what they said in their conference (not a surprise), and there was no real way to give them a consequence for it (I don’t like to add a number system to reading independently). Other than they felt pretty embarrassed once they realized I knew.
So, this year, I am going to use Goodreads as a means to have students read about books they may like as well as write reviews (of which I will grade) of the books they read in class. I know I am going to try this with my honors classes–I’m not quite sold on my CP classes yet.
What do I still need to figure out?
- A rubric for grading the reviews (and how many I expect in a semester). Right now, I’m thinking a minimum of two.
- How to encourage other students to write constructive comments on their peers’ reviews (maybe for a grade?).
- How I will know when students write a review. Is there a Share to an E-Mail feature?
So, I still have some things to figure out, but overall, I’m pretty excited about using more technology in the classroom.