On this relaxing afternoon, sharing a hammock and a love of reading with my youngest daughter, neither of us paused to think, "I better write this down on my reading log." That just isn't something real readers do; it's unnatural.
When I read a book that I really enjoy, I want to share it with others. I do not show them my reading log and say, "Hey you should read this, it's really good." I want them to read it too, so that we can talk about it.
So I had to ask myself, "Why exactly do I assign students to record pages, titles, summaries, and minutes of reading on a worksheet?" I want them to read, but how is this table with parent signatures making them want to read? It may be enforcing some sort of accountability, but it doesn't foster a love of reading. But if you can make them read, won't they eventually see how great reading is and learn to love it? Are you a parent? If so, when was the last time you "forced" your child to do something and they decided you were right and they loved it?
Why not ditch the reading log for a method of accountability that encourages sharing your love of a book with others?
1. Book Talks
2. Hexagonal Thinking
Instead of giving students a reading log, try giving them a hexagon instead. Each student can write down a word related to characters, conflict, setting, theme, or mood. Then they can have a discussion in which they look for connections between the novels that they are reading. I wrote a blog post about the lesson from the video (above). Learn more about "Hexagonal Thinking" by reading this post about a whole class activity on theme. I wouldn't try to have students do this to search for connections between multiple texts without first teaching the hexagonal thinking method as a whole class lesson. As you can see in the video, it is a great way to get students to have meaningful conversations about books.
4. 6 Word Memoirs
We are about to read "The Lightning Thief" and I am trying out a new strategy to get students talking about books. We are going to be studying "The Hero's Journey" and I have given the students a list of books that also follow this monomyth story pattern. We will be reading and discussing "The Lightning Thief" in class, but I like my students to spend time reading at home as well. I am wanting them to share what they are reading so that everyone can see how repetitive this story structure is across texts. Throughout our unit I have places where we will stop and note the stage of the hero's journey. Padlet is like a virtual bulletin board. The student's can respond to the reading prompt on the Padlet and read what others are saying about their books, making connections and noticing similarities; which is exactly what I wanted to have happen. I am not sure a reading log could make that happen.
Last summer I used my class Instagram to try to engage students in picking up books while school was not in session by posting #shelfies of me reading books. It wasn't the success that I had hoped it would be, but I am still going to try it again this summer. See more about this in #10. Modeling Being A Reader and Sharing Your Thoughts on Books.
8. Tweeting Log
9. Gallery Walks
There are so many variations of this. I found these great little tablets that look like iPad screens, and some "comment" and "like" icon post-it notes that made gallery walks even more fun. Students loved posting their comments and likes on the screens in which other students had written a response to a reading assignment.
The picture below is a speed dating style of gallery walk in which students move from partner to partner talking about their reading. I had them record their conversations in a "Give One, Get One" format in their notebooks.
10. Model being a Reader and sharing Thoughts on Books
Have a great idea for getting kids to talk about books? I'm always looking for new ways to keep things fresh. Connect with me and tell me about it.