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Reading Logs: Examples, lessons, and scaffolding

What are Reading Logs?

 
Reading logs serve multiple purposes. It serves as a tool to track student accountability in an independent reading program, by asking them to record the amount of time they spend reading and the number of pages they have read. These numbers are excellent for ensuring that students are reading a book that is appropriate for their levels (generally, one page every two minutes indicates the appropriate level), but those numbers don't tell the whole story of a student's reading life. Including questions to answer on the reading log shows whether students truly comprehend what they are reading, and asks them to think more deeply about what they are reading.

How Can Reading Logs be Used in the Classroom?

 
Reading logs are extremely helpful, as they provide information for both the teacher and student. It demonstrates growth in reading level, comprehension, and higher-level thinking, and it is a scaffold for book projects, as much of the information students write down in reading logs can help students with their book projects.

How Do I Introduce Them to My Students?

 
In my experience, most high school students are familiar with reading logs, as they had to use logs in elementary and middle school. I generally walk students through the different levels of reading logs, and clarify any aspect of the logs that confuses them.
 

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Reading Log Level 1

 
 
This is the first level of reading log, which I use for students who come in reading below a 6th grade reading level. It resembles a regular reading log, with space to record time and page numbers, but also gives students the space to answer questions about what they have read. Depending on each student's individual skills you can adapt the questions, and also change the size of the space (for example, a student who struggles with fine motor skills might need a larger space for answering questions). I found that this reading log worked very well for these lower-level students, because they were thinking about their reading, but simultaneously increasing their reading skills. A particular student with multiple disabilities in one of my classes, who tested below a second-grade reading level in September, tested on a fourth-grade level in June.
 

Reading Log Level 2

 
This is the second level of reading log, which I use for students who read on traditional middle school levels. It resembles the level one reading log, with spaces to record time and page numbers, but the questions are more complex, focusing less on comprehension and more on higher-order thinking. This type of log, with its continued emphasis on time and pages, also helps me, as the teacher, to track growth, while still increasing higher-level thinking. This is the reading log I used with my students who read on 6th grade level and above, and those who were reading on the traditional middle school levels improved the most, growing several grades.
 

Reading Log Level 3

 
This is the third level of reading log, which I plan to use for students who are on or slightly above grade level. Rather than recording time and page numbers, this log focuses more on student thinking, with choices for questions and an expectation that students will be thinking about their reading. This will be an experiment this year, because I did not use this type of reading log last year. However, I found far less growth from students who started out on grade level, because they were using the same reading logs as their less-advanced classmates. Hopefully, this will make a difference.
 
The fourth level of reading log, which will be for students well above grade level, is not a true log. Rather, this asks students to write short analyses of what they read. There is less accountability here, but a greater expectation in terms of student output. I experimented with this type of reading log with one very advanced student, and it seemed to work well for her.

Common Core State Standards

 
Reading Logs can be used the meet the following standards in the CCSS:
  • College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10
  • Reading Standards for Literature 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10
  • Reading Standards for Informational Texts 1, 2, 3, and 10