In the world of Readers Workshop, I am still working to strike a balance between the promotion of reading for the sake of enjoyment, and my capacity to hold students accountable for that reading on any consistent and meaningful basis.
In the past, I tried (and liked) Google Forms to have students reflect on and make reading goals, the use of their writer’s notebooks to track current and past reading throughout the year, and of course conferences with students to see who and where they are as readers.
However, my capacity to consistently track the reading lives of 142 students (which is far fewer even than many of my colleagues) often feels daunting, if not completely crippling. I rarely feel like I’m giving enough attention to, or celebration of, the ever-evolving reading lives of my students, at least early in the year. As the year progresses, regardless of the method, we get to know our students well enough that their reading lives come into focus, but the before Thanksgiving days are far too murky for my taste.
My goal this year was to figure out a way early in the year that I could take manageable snapshots of my students’ goal progress in order to both celebrate the success that would fuel reading momentum and to get a handle on who among my students would need the most encouragement.
For this purpose, I’ve worked to make our goals more visible, easy to check in on, hard to ignore, and readily accessible for quick conferences.
- I started the year with my Reading Goal posters prominently displayed for my 9th grade classes. Each week, students would set a goal after calculating their reading rate, let me know the progress they would be working to make in their books, and how long they had spent reading. Not surprisingly, for the first few weeks of 9th grade, my projected sample of a Post-It didn’t necessarily (consistently) get us a clear picture of what we were looking for. Numbers weren’t labeled, titles weren’t always included, etc.
- I decided to take out the guesswork and use a Post-It template I found and photocopy quick reflections each week that would make it easy for both students and teacher to see:
- What book are you reading?
- What page are you on now?
- What page will you be on based on your current calculation of reading rate?
- How long have you been with this text?
- Did you meet your goal for last week?
As I hand back slips to each child each week, I can do a quick check-in to see how on target, or not, my students are. This quickly prioritizes conferences for later in the week.
How do you keep track of students’ reading goals? Please leave a comment below!
Lisa Dennis spends her school days teaching AP Language and English 9, while also leading the fearless English department at Franklin High School, just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she lives with her husband Nick, daughter Ellie, and beagle Scout. She is a firm believer that a youthful spirit, a kind heart, a big smile, and a good book can ease most of life’s more troublesome quarrels. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LDennibaum.