Reading Log Introduction

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Students will be able to analyze main ideas, supporting details, and craft and structure by reading nonfiction passages and writing T3C paragraphs.

Big Idea

Students practice reading and writing skills in weekly reading logs.

Introduction to Weekly Independent Reading Log Homework

20 minutes

I have been assigning reading logs to all of my students for the last five years.  What those reading logs have looked like has changed drastically, but they have all been inspired by Robert Marzano.  I've used double entry journals, a strict summary, and a free-form log.  I've used this year's format for two years.

Reading Log Description from Syllabus

I do include the information on my class syllabus.  The basic idea is that Honors students need to read for two hours and thirty minutes a week, and English 7 students need to read for one hour and fifteen minutes.  That averages out to thirty minutes a day for Honors and fifteen minutes a day for English 7.

Here's a video!

Reading Logs for Students Reading At or Above Grade Level

  • How students divide up the time is up to them.  They can read for thirty minutes a day five days a week.  If they drive down to Phoenix on the weekend and read the whole time, they've met their quota.  
  • Reading logs are due every Monday.  If a holiday falls on Monday, and most of them do, then we all get a free week.  I used to have reading logs due on Tuesdays, but the math department's math packets are now due on Tuesday, and I didn't want to inundate the students with two major weekly assignments on the same day.
  • Students can read anything.  ANYTHING.  ANYTHINGANYTHING. If they have social studies reading homework, it counts.  If they have science reading homework, it counts.  If they read an internet article (not social media), it counts.  If they read their sheet music, it counts.  If they read to their little brother or sister, it counts.  If they read a novel, it counts.  Anything, as long as it involves literacy, counts.
  • Part of the reading time is comprised of a passage that I give students.  These passages come from Walter Pauk's book, The Six Way Paragraph. This is the same series that "King of Beasts" and "Booker T. Washington" came from. There's three levels, beginning, middle, and advanced.  My honors studetns get passages from the advanced book. Students who are in English 7 reading at or above grade level get passages from the middle level. The passages are very short, but I require students to cite evidence in a very specific way.
  • In addition to answering the multiple choice questions, students also have to write a T3C paragraph about what they read. For the first month, I require students to write about the passage I give them.  After that, students have the choice of writing about the required passage or another text that they read. 

Reading Logs for Students Reading Below Grade Level

  • Students still read for an hour and fifteen minutes a week.  Reading logs are due on Mondays.
  • I use passages from this series, Nonfiction Reading Practice, put out by Evan Moore for students reading below grade level. With this series, students are given three articles about one topic a week.  The articles are all on the same topic, but they increase in difficulty.  Students are required to read all three articles five times aloud.  DO WHAT? you ask?  Yes, read all three articles five times aloud.  This assignment is for homework, and the students who get this assignment are not at grade level.  My co-teacher spent many years with the Read Right program, which helps students increase comprehension by increasing fluency. Fluency must be developed for students to develop comprehension.  Fluency can be increased by reading aloud. The goal is to read the passage as naturally as one speaks.
  • In addition to answering the multiple choice questions, students also have to write a T3C paragraph about what they read. I require students to write about the passage I give them.

Citing Evidence on Weekly Reading Logs

20 minutes

Citing evidence requires colored pencils.  Many, many colored pencils.  ALL THE COLORS!

 Essentially, students use a different color to underline where they found the information to support their answer. They need three separate colors for main idea, and one color for the other five question types.  I model this using "King of Beasts" because we're familiar with the passage.  You can see the modeled annotated version below.    

Let's consider question #5.  That's the supporting detail question.  I highlighted it in blue, so when I find the evidence to support my answer, I'll underline it in blue.  Question 5 asks how lions hunt their prey. I found the answer to that question in paragraph 4.  Lions hunt their prey by surprise.  Lions creep up on their prey.  I have supported my answer with evidence from the text.  The reason for underlining is to prove my answer.  The reason for color coding is so I (the teacher) can see the students thinking.

So why do students need three separate colors for main idea? Isn't that a bit overboard?  No. Within the main idea question, there are actually three statements.  Which one is too narrow?  Which one is too broad?  Which one is the main idea?  I require students to underline evidence for each statement in a different color.  That way it's a bit easier to identify which of the three is the main idea. (Quite frankly, my students struggled with this throughout the year.  Main idea is hard, yo). 

If a statement is the main idea, it's found in all or most of the paragraphs.  All or most of the paragraphs support the main idea, also known as the thesis in an essay and topic sentence in a paragraph.  If a statement is too narrow, it's found in just one place.  In QAR, it's a right there question. If the statement is too broad, it's just too big.

Let's start with statement #1.  The lion is known as the King of Beasts.  That's in paragraph one, but that's it.  And the phrase king of beasts?  It's a pretty broad idea.

Now statement #2. Lions have long, powerful claws. That's in the text.  It's right there in paragraph 2.  It's only in paragraph.  It's too narrow.

Statement #3.  Lions are powerful animals that are good hunters.  There's support for that in paragraph 1 where it talks about size.  That supports that they're powerful.  Paragraph 2 says that specifically and then talks about how powerful the claws and teeth are.  Paragraph 3 doesn't specifically state anything about how powerful they are or how good of hunters they are. Eh.  Paragraph 4 explains how they are good hunters.  They are good hunters because they creep up on their prey and can take down animals that are faster and bigger.  Therefore #3 is the main idea because it is supported by most of the paragraphs.

Writing a T3C Paragraph

10 minutes

When I copy the passages for students, I put the passage on the front.  A bubble sheet and a T3C outline goes on the back.  The bubble sheet is there so students can bubble in their answers and I can use the Mastery Connect app on Edmodo to quickly grade.  It also allows me to easily collect and track data.

The T3C outline is for students to write their T3C paragraph.  For the first month of school, everyone writes about the passage I assign.  After that, students reading at or above grade level have a choice of writing about the passage or another text they've read that week.  For many years, I gave that option to all students. My low performing students, however, have much more success when they're given the passage. 

I encourage students to start with the concrete evidence first.  Choose the facts from the passage and write the concrete evidence.  Then explain the importance of those facts and details in commentary. Once you know what the paragraph is about, introduce it with a topic sentence and then restate the main idea in the concluding sentence.

Since my students get individualized homework, I need a way to keep track of it.  The easiest way I've thought of is to copy each week's homework on a different color of paper.  Everyone gets the same color, but there's different passages.  That way, I can easily remind students that the blue reading log is due next Monday.  No one is singled out, and I keep my sanity. 

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