Students need to set goals for themselves as readers in order to grow. It is important for me to assist with creating those goals as many students do not know how to make realistic goals for themselves that will are attainable but also will help push them as readers. When students set goals they are on their way to becoming life-long readers. Many eighth graders surprise me by how much they want to accomplish these goals.
Before we set these goals, students spend the majority of class determining their reading rate for a half an hour. This allows students to set goals for the following marking period. It also gives me an opportunity to assess their skills at independent reading in order to work on reading complex texts independently. While we have done this work for the first marking period, this lesson allows us to go more in-depth so students are already used to this work and can be pushed further in their thinking.
I give each student a post-it and have students write down their name, the book they are currently reading and its author, along with the page they are currently on. Students read for a half an hour. At that time, they write down their new page and determine how many pages they read within that half an hour.
As students are reading I conference with as many students as I can. I make sure that each conference is one to two minutes in order to accommodate the entire class. As I conference with each student, the questions start the same but the conversation may go in a different direction. I ask students how they did with their reading the marking period prior. We then work together to set specific goals, whether it be the amount of pages, the amount of books, the difficulty of books, or even the genre. For some students, their goal is to develop a reading habit, which for us is reading 2.5 hours a week. It can be hard to determine which types of goals work for each reader. Sometime it's a matter of trial and error. By this point of the year, I know students well enough to determine if they need help with a reading habit, finding books, and so on. The next question I ask is how they would define themselves as a reader. The helps me to see how they view themselves as readers. They are also able to internalize the idea that there are different kinds of readers.
This video explains the reading conference and the work that comes out of it.
After the half hour is done, the write down the amount of pages they read within that time frame. I collect the post-its and keep this data. This data will be used throughout the marking period as students complete their independent reading each week. This is not to serve as a "got you", but to serve as a springboard to assess their progress throughout the marking period.
The rest of class is devoted to working on creating that reading reflection. I purposely do these each marking period as a way for students to reflect on the work they've done and they work they will continue to do. In order for students to be life-long readers and grow in their reading skills they need to be active in the process and this reading reflection allows that. The best readers are students who set realistic goals for themselves so it is important to devote this time to do that. We also determine which books were difficult. This allows students to begin to read complex texts independently, a skill the Common Core addresses.
I pull up the Writing The Marking Period 2 Reading Essay on the Smartboard (that file requires Smartbook- here is a PDF version: MP2 Reading Essay). We review each slide as a class. The first four slides serve as prewriting. We review each slide as a class but do not spend working on each part in class. This is work that will be completed in their notebooks. The first slide focuses on reading rate. I have students review their reading rate for the marking period but looking at their notebooks to see how many pages they read. They then think of themselves as a reader and whether or not this reading rate is appropriate. The next slide has students creating a reading ladder of the books they have read based on difficulty. This has students begin to analyze books in order to grow as readers. The last slide has students create goals for themselves for the next marking period. These goals vary based on amount of pages, amount of pages, and genres. Some students need to work on creating a reading habit by reading the required amount, 2 and a half hours, each week.
The last slide is the focus for the essay. The pull together all the information they did from their prewriting to create a two-page essay answering the following questions:
1. What have you read this marking period that has challenged you?
2. How have you improved this marking period?
3. How you can you improve next marking period?
I pull up my Marking Period 2 Reading Essay Example so they can see what this looks like in practice. This helps them visualize the expectations for this kind of writing. This video explains the structure of the marking period 2 reading essay. Here is a Student Example of the essay.