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.
Snapchat is another fantastic tool for sharing your thinking about books. Tara Martin has written a lot about this medium and has also made some instructional videos, so you can learn how to do it as well.
I have my very own teacher "Genius Hour", or 20% time project, it is a separate blog devoted entirely to books. Inspired by Tara's #booksnaps, I did my December book write up through Snapchat. Click on the image to check out how I marked up the text to illustrate "Notice and Note Signposts" in Dan Gemeinhart's "Some Kind of Courage."