One way to develop the habit of reading outside of school and filling out reading logs is to do a reading log and book check every morning for the first two-three weeks of school. It is especially helpful and necessary for the students who are not reading outside of school as part of their homework to let them know that I am checking to see if they have read at home for the 40 mins or longer. These might be your students who are two or more years below grade level. Not being at benchmark occurs for a variety of reasons. In my experience it, may be due to several factors: English Language Learner status (ELL) student, Students with identified (or not) learning disability, or lack of reading experience because of "pretend reading" in books that are too hard during independent reading time at school followed by not reading outside of school.
The Teacher College Reading & Writing Project Curricular Calendar that I use to guide my instruction states that 5th grade students who are below grade level and reading at the P-Q level will need to read 3-4 books a week. Similarly, 4th grade students who are at the N-O level will need to also be reading 3-4 of these books per week. The further students are from benchmark- the more access they need to different titles. They need to shop for multiple books to have a short stack of books on their desk. When they finish one, they start another. Below-grade-level readers need to read more books each week because the books are shorter. A J-K 4th or 5th grade reader needs to read 6-8 or more books per day, or 40 books per week at J level to make progress. An intermediate student can move up quickly through the levels if they have a high volume at the correct level. They need to move up as soon as possible into Ls and then Ms, reading lots, and lots of books at these levels. You must help these students by collecting all the books they need put them in a large ziplock and see that they take them home and read, read, read. The laddering form is a way to co-create a reading plan for these emergent readers.
Our academic day begins at 9:25 with our first bell. Many students however arrive as early as 8:00 a.m. Our CityYear staff runs a homework club/morning activities in the cafeteria before breakfast. Breakfast is from 8:45 until 9:15. At 9:15 all students go out to the playground for morning recess. At 9:25 all teachers meet their students outside and students line up and the "line monitor" checks to see if students are quiet and facing front, showing a change from recess behavior to entering the building behavior.
At the start of the year, I have students come straight into the classroom with their backpacks. I do not allow students to stop at their lockers before coming into the classroom until they learned the morning routines. I learned this allows for kids to waste a lot of time in the hall. It is important that I get them into the room so students can practice once again changing their behavior from being in line to being an active, responsible, classroom member and student. I can check to see who has their math homework, reading logs, and books. Having their backpacks in the room negates the necessity of students having to go into the hall to get something out of their backpacks or lockers. Here are some things I am checking for as I analyze their reading logs: Sticking with a book and finishing a book, number of pages read and number of minutes should be about 1 to 1. That means if they state they read for 30 minutes they should have completed about 30 pages in their book. Bring students to the rug for a quick mini-lesson on "Starting our Day"off right. Make a chart that explicitly tells students what to have out of their backpacks and on their desks first thing when they come in.
My springboard into action is to hold strategy groups and have students prepare a collections of book baggies for levels J through N. Students will take home a baggie of 10 books at level J decreasing to 2 M level books on Monday. Students will need to read their books outside of school on Monday and bring the baggies back Tuesday. I will coach students on how to fill out their reading logs. Leveled partnerships can switch baggies on Tuesday allowing them to read another set of books at their level. I will reassess this system after a week to see how it is working and if the students are ready for a new level.
Partnerships will provide support and assist me in holding each other responsible for reading lots of books at their level. They will have choice as to the order of what they read in their baggies and can help me create the baggies from the bins. I am still offering them choice- just limited. This is the best way I can see in increasing their volume.
Open house is coming up so I will be able to talk to parents at that time about the importance of reading outside of school.