Over the past few years, my thinking about "reading logs" has changed dramatically. Reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller was one major influence on me as I thought my way through a practice I wasn't sure I supported. If you haven't read this one, be sure to add it to your "must read" list! Katherine Sokolowski's wonderful recent post "How do you know they are reading?" brought this topic up again in my mind and begged me to think about it again.
Last year, instead of asking first graders to write down titles of books they read at home, I asked them to keep track of the minutes they were reading. All of the research I've read points to reading a minimum of 20 minutes daily, so I felt like this was more in tune with my beliefs. And what happened? Yep. The kids who read no matter what read for 20 minutes or more daily. And the rest? Hit or miss. Some read, some of the ones who really need to read at home didn't. So it was better than tracking the titles, but I'm still not convinced it was a perfect system.
Fast forward to now. I found out a couple of months ago that I'll be teaching 4th grade next year. Oh... the possibilities! One thing I know for sure is that I will not be asking my kids to keep track of their minutes. Yes, I'll still encourage the 20 minutes or more... but I think we have to go beyond that. I go back to Donalyn's book and her "40 book challenge." I know this is what I want for my 4th graders. The challenge to read at least 40 books throughout our year together. And I'll be standing beside them as a fellow reader, trying to do the same.
As a reader, I use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read and the books I want to read. While I don't want to "require" a specific way of keeping track of their reading, I do want my students to find a way that will be both user-friendly and helpful as they strive to read all those books! I really value choice and autonomy, and I want my kids to know that. So... I plan to provide choices and options but also give the freedom to come up with a system that works for them!
A few ideas I've come up with so far include...
*Biblionasium - This amazing site is quite similar to Goodreads but is aimed specifically at kids. I love that they can add titles to their shelf, rate books, and recommend books to friends.
*Google Doc - We'll have 1:1 Kuno tablets in our classroom, and I know my students will already be familiar with using Google to create documents. They could create a list or a spreadsheet.
*Reader's Notebook - I think some 4th graders might prefer a special notebook for writing down their thoughts and titles.
*Blog post - I'll be setting up a KidBlog page for us and wonder if some readers will want to create a special post that they can continue to add to throughout the year and list their book titles.
*Pictures - I know the tablets already have Skitch on them, so I'm also interested in seeing if anyone will want to keep pictures of all of the books they read. Using Skitch, they could write their thoughts or rating right on the picture. The pictures could be kept in a special folder for easy access.
How do you keep track of your reading? Do you ask students to track titles or minutes? I'd love to hear what you do in your classroom!