Monday, February 17, 2014

Accountability with Independent Reading - Middle School Edition

A long time ago - like maybe six months ago - I wrote about how I believe Reader's Workshop is better than AR. You can read that post here. Well, I mentioned at the end of the post that I'd share about how to maintain accountability with kids and reading at a later time. But then I never did. So here I am to do that!

I actually think it's better that I'm writing it now, now that I can see what a Reader's Workshop looks like in primary and intermediate classrooms, as opposed to just middle school. I think we have two different situations going on with elementary and middle that need to be addressed separately, so I'll start with middle school.

Independent reading is a huge component of Reading Workshop. When I taught in middle school, I had a traditional schedule where I saw students 45 minutes a day each day of the week. I had to get some instruction done, which eventually led my schedule to have only one day of class for sustained silent reading. First tip: Keep your day for silent reading the same every day. Kids need to be able to plan for their reading!

Students had to have more reading in their lives than just one class period a week, so all the rest of their reading was to be done at home. Their homework every  night was to read 20 pages of their Just Right book and work in their Reader's Notebooks. Once in awhile they would have additional homework, but I made it a point to do so very rarely. It was more important to me that they read every night at home, so I made time in class for whatever else we were working on.

Now, you have to check this reading. You can't just tell middle school kids to read and assume that they will. To check it, I used status of the class. All you need is one calendar per child and about 3-5 minutes at the beginning of class. This is what it looks like:

As you can see, I just call out to each student and ask their page number. I tracked it on the calendar. Students who didn't do their reading had to stay after school to finish. (This really only works if you have some other time during the day to make kids stay and finish their reading. I highly encourage something like our PRIME Time class, which was for students who didn't finish homework - not for behavior-related issues.)

Why status of the class?
Well, since it's all verbal, students can hear what one another are reading and it builds interest for books. As I take status, students are working on a "Do Now" of some sort, but they also hear the books of the friends in the class and can ask each other questions about the books.

Secondly, it's a 1:1 time for me with each child, and although super short, that 1:1 is so important. I've had people say, "Why don't you make this a google form and have kids do it on the computer?" Well, it's easier to lie about pages when you don't have to connect 1:1 with an adult. Plus, when you do this every day, with every child, you see patterns and trends. You know which kids are really reading and which kids are not.

Finally, it's quick. When you do this every day and the routine never changes, it hardly takes any time and is no big deal. Plus, doing status lets me know when a child finishes their book, needs to write a blog (click here to see my former students' book blogs, listed down the right hand side of the page), and when they need to get a new book.

Status of the class is important but students also have to be doing some kind of writing in their Reader's Notebooks about their books. Every night. You can do this in many ways - and I change this up throughout the year, but kids have to write about their reading. Some options:

  1. Reading Strategies - Kids can write predictions, questions, draw conclusions and inferences, summarize...any of those great strategies we teach to help kids be active readers.
  2. Response to Literature - Kids can write responses to what they read - what they think about the books, characters, settings, etc. I use this list from Fountas and Pinnell.
  3. Text structures - Kids can complete text structures about their reading - obviously a plot line for fiction, but then when they read nonfiction, they can complete any of these:

Great book for teaching text structures:

Anyways, make sure students are writing about their reading each night at home. Status of the class plus a writing component for homework are key to accountability in Middle School.

I thought I would continue on with Elementary School, but I'm going to save that for another post. Promise to get to that sooner than six months from now!

Happy President's Day! I think we're going to try skiing today...I've never been so we'll see how that goes!


  1. I hated reading when I was in primary school. Well, maybe I couldn’t understand how nice it was because my family didn’t try to show me the beauty of reading. But when I was in middle school, I took one excellent book from the library, and it changed my world because I started loving it! I read one book after the other and used my assignment help, so I could have more time to read. And when I read what they wrote, I felt like I wished I could write the same way!

  2. How do others write? It is always a good idea to analyze several works by already recognized writers or even amateur graphomaniacs. Look at the structure. Where does the story begin. How many characters. How dialogues are constructed. Go to essay writing service


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...