Reading logs and response journals are a common classroom homework assignment. However, there are several dos and don’ts when using reading journals. It is important for them to be creative, thoughtful and fun. If the reading log is repetitive or boring, then the assignment will become dreaded. After all, the purpose of using reading logs and journals should be to instill a love for reading rather than make it seem like a chore. Here are some tips on how to use reading logs and response journals, effectively.
Make it Fun
If children have been using a boring reading log for some time, the name may be off putting. Thus, have children make reading response journals or “I love reading” books. Each reporting period give children spiral journals or construction paper books with paper inside. Then, give kids time to decorate the covers with stickers, glitter, puffy paint and anything that will make them feel connected to the piece. Inside the journal have them glue a set of questions that they can choose from to write about.
Weekly Reading Log
Some teachers like to hand out a reading log on a weekly basis. This is a good idea if it is done correctly. First, change the colors of the reading logs. Kids see white paper everyday so change things up by giving them yellow or green paper. Make sure the paper is light enough to see the response. Next, put amusing clip art, a comic strip, funny quote or interesting fact on the reading log. Finally, give students a choice of questions or responses to write on.
Some examples of questions: who is your favorite character? What has been the most exciting part of the story so far? Would you recommend this book to a friend? Some the responses include: draw a picture of the setting. Write down three important events that occurred in the story. Overall, it is always best to align the questions with grade level standards.
Things To Avoid
When doing reading logs it is best not to have an assignment be about logging in the title, author and pages read. Essentially, logging in what one reads is where the name “reading log” originated. Yet, for me, these “outdated” logs are just a chore. In addition, often times students will just write down anything and ask their parents to sign it. In addition, students don’t have to think about what they read. Also, giving students the same questions over and over again will quickly lose students’ interest.
As said before, a reading response can easily be done in a journal. However, for those who like a printable format, try the Reading Response Journals on havefunteaching.com and sanchezclass.com. In the past, I have simply made a two-column table with four rows in a word processing program. In one column, I put the days of the week and a reading response question. The other column is left blank for the student’s response. I always give at least one free choice response. And again, add an interesting fact and fun graphic to pique interest.
Make sure to comment on your students’ responses. Students need to know that you are reading their journals. If you don’t seem like you care, they won’t either.