Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Read and Talk and Write, Oh my!

I have just finished creating reading logs for my first-grade kiddos to use next year. I intend to use these in conjunction with homework reading assignments, as a tool for encouraging young readers to connect more deeply with their texts after reading. I have learned a lot recently about close reading (more to come on that later), and I think this type of reading log will coincide well with close reading instruction (or modeling, with those first grade readers!).  Each reading log is designed to accommodate reading assignments for three days each week. On each day, the student will document the date as well as the title/author of text he/she reads. Then the student will complete a reading response exercise. The reading response is my favorite part. While the task is relatively simple on the August reading logs, it builds, slightly increasing in rigor throughout the school year. This "increase in rigor" throughout the reading logs does not necessarily mean "more time consuming tasks" for homework; instead, it means that the task will encourage students to think more deeply about what they have read. I think the term rigor strikes a chord of confusion throughout the educational realm these days; but that's another soapbox for another day...

I couldn't resist the seasonal headers... ;)
The second part I felt was important to include in these reading logs was an obvious component of parental involvement. The packet includes a parent letter template, which explains the purpose for the use of a reading log and encourages parents to take an active part in their child's reading development by monitoring their reading each night. 

Naturally, we all say things like "Make sure you are talking with your children as they read," or "Don't forget to talk with you child after they finish reading. Ask them questions!" Don't get me wrong, this is great advice... if you are a teacher and are accustomed to developing comprehension skills among young readers. We could constructively question children about what they are reading all day long without the slightest bit of support if we had to do so. 

But what if that's not what you do all day? What if you are a parent who wants to help your child become a better reader, but you aren't quite sure where to start with this whole discussing-the-book thing? It is my hope that the reading response tasks on these reading logs will provide a foundation for developing that conversation between parents and their children. It's not a long script; it isn't an in-depth formula. It is one question, at the end of one reading session, that promotes some type of discussion about reading a text beyond the basic in-the-text questions on which many people depend. There's nothing wrong with asking about the main characters and the setting of a text. That's necessary. However, it's also just as necessary that, even at a young age, students begin developing opinions about what they are reading, formulate those opinions into words, and write those words on paper. It's my goal that we can use these reading logs, not only as a tool for growth (and documentation) of our readers throughout the year, but also as a means for parents to take a part in that development as well.

If you are interested in using my reading logs as well, they are available at The Tally Tales TPT store
What do you think about my reading logs? How are you planning to encourage your readers this year?