Different years I have played around with and experimented with reading logs. I even had a year when I tossed them out and went by books read or pages read after reading resources from Nancie Atwell and Donalyn Miller, as well as reflecting on my own reading life. Nonetheless, I have realized that in my teaching context, reading logs are part of the school wide culture from kindergarten to fifth grade and it made sense to continue that on through 8th grade.
In addition, juggling reading in two languages and knowing that kids sometimes read multiple books at a time, I noticed that reading logs are a valuable tool in tracking students' reading lives. This summer I was reading resources by Lucy Calkins and colleagues (Pathways to the Common Core and the reading PDFs). I appreciated the way that they highlighted reading logs as a tool for student self reflection in addition to a teacher tool. As I reconsidered reading logs in preparation for the new school year, those ideas influenced my thinking.
This year, based on having students doing their independent reading in three different classrooms, I decided to have students record both their in school and at home reading onto the same log (rather than the log being for at home reading and doing a status of the class for in school reading). Even if they were all still in my class, I appreciate the way that having their two reading times side by side allows for a better snapshot into their reading lives. It also allows students to be more accountable for their reading lives and the decisions they are making as readers.
Students are expected to read the 35 minutes of independent reading at school Monday to Thursday and 30 minutes at home Monday-Friday. I include Saturday and Sunday on the reading log as optional days. Before I tried to be as efficient as possible with paper, such as getting a quarter long reading log set up; however, this year I decided to go week by week in order to preserve that record by reducing the chance of students losing a reading log that had weeks worth of data on it.
Instead, each Thursday they file their complete reading log into a folder that stays in the classroom and receive a new one. There is a self-assessment on the back of the reading log where they assess themselves in two categories: time reading and engagement while reading.
If students meet the minimum reading requirements and are engaged while reading, they earn a 90% A. If they go above and beyond by either reading over 30 minutes during the week or by reading on the weekend, they earn a 100% A. If they miss reading sessions the grade decreases (i.e. 1 session B, 2 sessions C, 3-5 sessions D, more than 5 F). Their grade for the week is calculated first by time spent reading, but then they have to have the reading engagement behaviors to maintain that grade. For example, if the reader met the minimum time requirements but frequently switched books/grabbing random books off the shelf, they would not earn an A.
The rubric has opened up conversations about what they can be doing in order to support their growth as a reader, as well as behaviors and habits that can stifle that growth. At the end of each quarter students will revisit all of their logs so far and write a reflection on their reading lives, including goals for the next quarter.