I’ve got a little something I’ve been thinking to share with you all, and the Spark Student Motivation linky with the ever-clever Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching is just the spot. I know, it isn’t Saturday, but the idea is a good one!
In my class, we do a lot of reading. All grades, 6 through 8, are expected to read a minimum of ten minutes a day. Most of the time, class starts when kids walk in, grab their book boxes (containing 3-5 books chosen by them) and sit around the classroom to read. We build stamina, learn story elements and just lose ourselves in a good book. Well, they do, since I check in with students during that time.
One of the biggest struggles in teaching ESL is the skill of summarizing. It’s so hard when you’re trying to learn the meaning and structure of words to be able to go a level above that and describe what it’s all about, especially when we’re talking novels and larger books. Over the years I have tried numerous ways for students to log reading. I don’t want tracking reading to distract from the reading process, or take away from being absorbed in a text, but so many of my kids lack the knowledge and role models needed to see themselves as readers that I have to find ways to make “being a reader” a series of skills.
At the start of this year, I tried something new: the What I’m Reading sheet. It’s got five areas for five days of the week (if a student is absent, either I or they mark it out and write ‘absent’ in the box) and lines for all the important things they need to keep track of: title, author, pages read, genre, if they finished or abandoned the book, and, most importantly, a section for summary.
Click on the image to download your own What I’m Reading sheet from Google Docs
When the chime sounds and silent reading is over, students head to their desks and fill these out. There are lots of ways to use these sheets in addition to working on summary skills. One of my favorite ways is to have each student turn to the person beside them and give them one minute to share their summaries before it’s the other student’s turn to share. The listener has to ask meaningful questions about the book, too. I can’t tell you the number of students who try a new book based on summary sharing. I love it!
I’ve also had reluctant students, or non-speakers, use their summaries to read from to the class. It takes a lot of the fear away to have that piece of paper. You can really see some of them gather confidence in such a short period of time by doing this.
I keep the summary sheets and file them in student folders to share with parents and other teachers when they ask about a student’s reading and processing ability. I generally tell students their summaries should be a maximum of two sentences, because that takes the stress off of them for writing a lot, it makes them focus on what they *are* writing, and hello–summaries are supposed to be short!
Since I just started these this year, my idea is to make a mini-book of these for each student, probably just stapled or with an O-ring, and give them as an end-of-year, “see how much you read!” kind of memento. I’ll let you know how that goes!
Want your own What I’m Reading sheet? Click on the image above, or download your own copy here from Google Docs. I’d love to hear how you use yours!