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I struggled with requiring and checking signed reading logs my first two years teaching. And if I'm honest in reflecting, it gave me VERY little data about my kids as readers except to know who could forge their parents signatures.
I know 90% of what was on those logs was a lie, anyways. But all of my team teachers required them, so as a new teacher, I did, too. Until I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, followed up with her sequel, Reading in the Wild. It was then that I began to understand just how harmful some of the "it's always been this way" practices really are to building an authentic love of reading.
Don't get me wrong - I believe there needs to be some accountability in reading. And I believe that students and teachers alike need to be able to see the trends in their reading habits. I just don't think we get that information by reviewing reading logs they are likely making up the minutes for and getting their parents to sign as they get out of the car line in the morning.
I created a different kind of bookmark - one that tracks their reading progress as they read and has NO minute requirements or parent signatures needed. These Reading Tracker Bookmarks were transformative when I was in the classroom and students actually liked tracking because it was so easy.
The way they track their progress is simple, but allow me to explain the reasoning behind it:
Each time a student starts a new book, they get a new bookmark. They put the title on the spine of the bookmark on the front - no need to write the title each day (boring, repetitive, and useless!)
Students will start each day by quickly writing the date and the page they STARTED reading on. For example, Suzie starts reading on page 23 today, she will write down "23." She does nothing else for the day except for squeezing in some reading whenever she can (without worrying about logging the minutes every time!)
Tomorrow when she pulls open her book, she takes out the bookmark (which is already with the book) and writes the page number she started on (let's say today it's 58).
You might think there's not a lot of data to see here, but there is. From just these two numbers I can see she read 35 pages yesterday, which means that she read quite a bit and may have even opened her book outside of the 20 minutes of independent reading in class. What if a week goes by and she's then on page 63? Then I know she hasn't been reading much and maybe this book isn't a good fit for her, or we need to discuss where we can sneak some extra reading minutes in. Plus, you are able to see how long it's taking a child to finish one chapter book. That in itself is really valuable information!
These bookmarks are designed to also be used as a neat classroom bulletin board of finished books (that also doubles as a book recommendation center). The only caveat is I do NOT recommend displaying student names, so make sure they put only the title on the spine (they can be displayed with the spine out for anonymity). Miller touches on this plenty in her book, but reading should be a challenge against THEMSELVES, not anyone else.
These bookmarks could also be collected on a binder ring for students to keep track of independently. They can be used in reading conferences to discuss trends with your readers. They are incredibly easy to prep (just copy front and back on colored paper) and can be kept in a bin close to the classroom library for students to grab as they need.
Each bookmark contains an inspiring quote about reading and a different style of book spine. If you have questions about how to use these in your classroom, please reach out at email@example.com and I would be happy to answer any questions that you have! Ditching reading logs once and for all can have the biggest effect on a love for reading in your classroom... don't be afraid to try it out and see what you think!
Check out what some teachers are saying about how this resource has helped their classroom!