Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year, New Ideas, New Possibilities

Today Fun in the Fours is having a guest blogger as part of a linky party by Primary Possibilities. Welcome, Christina!

Howdy! It's me, Christina, from *Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge* guest blogging today at Fun in the Fours!
Bunting Books and Bainbridge
I'm so excited to join up with this guest blogging party and find new bloggy friends to follow! As the new year gets under way, I'm seeing a lot of buzz on some of the groups I belong to about reading logs and the love/hate relationship that we as teachers have with them. We know we need something to keep kids accountable for nightly reading and we know they need to read at home to continue to grow and progress as readers... but it's difficult sometimes I find a meaningful way for students to "prove" they are doing their reading. I have LOVED the Reading Response Journals my school is using this year as a way to hold my students accountable and interact with their reading AND practice their writing! My building is a 3-5 building and every classroom uses RRJs as part of nightly homework.  The number of nights students write in their RRJs varies by grade-level, but building wide we agree that students will complete them a minimum of 3 times per week, with many teachers having their students do them more frequently than that. Our RRJs are composition notebooks that students have decorated to help them feel more connected to the process. As students read at home, they fill in a log in the front of their RRJ.

The log requires them to list the title and genre of their book, as well as a comprehension strategy they used and will write about in their RRJ.  They also mark off the number of pages read and the AR level of the book they've read. As we teach our students each comprehension strategy we want them to use, they complete a "sample" writing to give us an opportunity for re-teaching and classroom practice.  They glue the sample in their RRJ so that, when they are at home, they have an example of what they should be doing.

In my class, students complete RRJs every night Monday-Thursday.  I read them each day and don't "grade" them, so much as read the content to help me stay connected to what they students are reading.  What I LOVE LOVE LOVE is that I can instantly see who truly understands their book, I learn more about my students, and they can get immediate feedback from me on their writing. They can't wait to come back from their special each day to find their RRJ laying at their spot.  All 26 of them immediately flip to the most recent page (ok... 25 of the 26 do) to see what I wrote.  Sometimes I just give a smiley face.  Other times I ask questions about what I've read or I make a note to "fix capital letters and show me". Now that we've been doing them for half of the school year, my students are starting to see the growth and progress they've made as writers, which always makes me excited when kids get that they get it. I also love that this helps them achieve a deeper level of comprehension.  If a kid is trying to write a narrative summary of a non-fiction text, then I know they don't understand how to internalize what they are reading.  If someone is making text-to-self connections every night that are surface level connections only, I know I need to teach that student to activate their prior knowledge better so they can dig for meaningful connections. I taught 1st and 2nd graders for 6 years before moving to 3rd this year and, if I had known about this before, I SO would have had my littles doing it.  I love getting a glimpse into my students' reading each night and I love that this is something more than "write the title and have your parent sign it". Want to know the weird part...?  The kids love it.  They LOVE RRJs.  They enjoy the occasional break from them... but kids like to write and this gives them an opportunity to select their own reading and then do their own writing about it. I understand the merits of a reading log and, if you're a reading log teacher, don't throw tomatoes at me or anything like that!  But as we constantly seek to make our classrooms the most effective places they can be for student learning and success, I have found RRJs to be an excellent way for my students to connect to their reading and apply their comprehension skills. If you'd like to learn more about my RRJs, check out these posts back at my own blog.

Thank you SO much, Lynn, for having me as your guest blogger today! I hope everyone will continue through this guest blogging loop to discover new blogs and new ideas!


Lynn is guest blogging at Collaboration Cuties. You can click the button or the link to go there. Enjoy.



  1. Well said, Christina. I LOVE the reading response log. I especially like the correlation to AR level and recording it. I also like that parents get to see this information being tracked by the child.

  2. Hi Lynn,
    Just read your post at Collaboration Cuties and commented there and then realized I should visit you here! LOL! I love this linky but can't figure out how you know where to guest blog!! Anyway I loved your ideas,especially the class journal. Happy to be following you. Welcome to blogging!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

    1. Thank you for the welcome :) Yeah, I liked the class journal idea too. I saw it on I Love My Classroom and thought it was great. We started this week and the kids are enthralled. I've never seen them so eager to write!! :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your great tips at Collaboration Cuties. I can definitely use them with my students!

    Teacher Sol :)
    You can visit my blog at: Teacher Sol’s FUNSHINE

  4. Very excited to have found your blog through this linky. You have some very cute ideas. I'm planning on using your snowman craftivity freebie once we start our fraction unit.:)

    iTeach 1:1

  5. Thanks for guest blogging on our site today!! :O)

    We can't wait to get to know you!! :O)

    Amanda and Stacia
    Collaboration Cuties

  6. This is such a great idea. It makes me want to rethink my own reading logs for first grade!
    Thanks for linking up!