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  • Writer's pictureMegan Mariano

Why I Don't Do a Daily Reading Log: What I Do Instead

The reading log. What is it exactly? I think most of us reading teachers know, but for those who are not familiar, in short, it's a document in which students fill out what they read each night, how many pages read, how many minutes, and a parent signature (see the sample below).

The intentions behind this are wonderful. We want students to READ and to be accountable for reading and we want parents INVOLVED! Unfortunately, however, I have found in my experience that it is ineffective. Read on to find out more!

Why I Don't Do Them

Reason 1: It takes away from the joy of reading

Making it homework zaps all energy away from reading. Plus, taking the time to fill out the log takes away from actually reading. Students will do the reading begrudgingly because they know they need that check in the gradebook. Or, the students won't do it at all because they don't care enough and avoid doing work to begin with. So why would they want to read if it's attached to another assignment?

Reason 2: Lies, lies, lies

Have you seen this meme on the socials? It makes me giggle because it's true. If you are a super attentive teacher, you may be able to catch them in the lie, but in reality, they get savvy. They will make up a number, a time, etc. just to get it done. Honestly, my son, who is in third grade currently, has to do a reading log. He reads. A LOT. We don't keep track of how much he reads or how long he reads for so it's a guessing game when we fill it out.

Students who are averse to reading will just make stuff up to get the grade and won't read.

Reason 3: It really shows nothing...

What is it really showing? IF a student is doing it correctly, it's really just a log. Why do we need to know all these details? Does it really matter how many pages they read? Does it matter if they read for 10 minutes or 45 minutes? It's just so much pressure.

Reason 4: It takes away from student independence

Our goal is to get students to have reading habits. Newsflash: if it hasn't happened at home by now, the parents are not going to do much now. A log is not going to get these parents involved. It's 100% up to the student at this point.

What I Do Instead

Reading Record

This blog post goes into more detail. The main thing I do with them is what I call a reading record. If you look at the picture below, it DOES say Reading Log but it is NOT a daily log. This log is for students to record a book each time they start it. So it is simply a list of books they've read. It's a really nice visual.

In addition to this, students keep track of genres they've read as well as a basic weekly reflection to prove they've been reading. These visuals are super helpful when trying to determine if students are really reading and what type of reading they're doing.

This version is great and very detailed, but I decided to consolidate it for the past two years or so. Now, I use a simplified Google Form and have the students do a separate Google Form (Weekly Book Log) once a week. This shortened reading record is very basic, in which they just fill it out each time they start a new book. It puts all their info. into a Google Sheet, so I can easily organize it. You can also set it up to put into Google Docs, for easier readability.

Weekly Book Log

Despite keeping this Reading Record, I do not feel it's enough to hold them accountable, so I created a Weekly Book Log as well. Each Friday, students complete this log (in their advisory/homeroom class) to reflect on their weekly reading. They fill out basic information about their books and then choose a question to answer that shows their comprehension.

I am not a huge fan of forcing anything on students for independent reading, but I really felt I needed something to hold them accountable and be sure they were reading.

Reading Workshop and Assessments Within

Reading workshop has been the way for me. It has been very successful in my 16 years of teaching and what's great about it is that it's fluid and ever-evolving. The idea that my whole curriculum revolves around student choice means they are consistently using independent reading with their work, therefore, I need some way to hold them accountable. Since they are using their independent reading book FOR their lessons, that right there is proof they are reading.

The major way I assess their reading is:

Read more about that here!

Bottom Line:

Ultimately, you do what works for you and your students. If doing a daily log has been successful for you, keep at it! I've just found it to be antiquated and takes away from the joy of reading. Consider what your goal is for students and their reading. This will help you determine the needs in your classroom!

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