Saturday, January 17, 2015

Weekly Reading Inventory

On August 2, 2014, I posted the following quote on my Cues from Ekuwah Moses Facebook page:

My progressive principal asked me to develop a school-wide homework reading log (K-5th). It needs to give open-ended and family-friendly reading ideas to encourage wide reading based on student choice. The log cannot ask students to record minutes (why put a limit on fun?) and no pointless or mundane writing of book titles. Here is what I have drafted for semester one. Please give me feedback before we print!  

The feedback I received from on my online PLN was tremendous!  In fact, the Curriculum Corner decided to feature me in their Corner Spotlight, share my twist on a traditional reading log on their website, and share via their Facebook page and Twitter account.  Needless to say, I pressed forward with my plan to implement the school-wide log on a semester basis.

Semester 1

Semester 2 starts next week and it is time to freshen up the log with all that we have learned from implementing it during semester 1.  I received feedback from a Google Form I created, for our K-5th grade teachers, in the first few weeks of implementation. Additionally, I personally implemented the log as a parent (of a 3rd and 4th grader). I have also done a tremendous amount of professional reading and collected several fantastic reading resolution lists over the last several months.  Now, I would like to unveil the new version.  But, before I do I must explain it.  

I am passionate about freely sharing ideas and resources with fellow educators, but faulty implementation and innovation can occur when proper professional development is not provided. So, I would like to explain the rationale for the changes I made to Semester 2's "homework."

New Title-     

Weekly Reading Inventory

I have changed the name of the form to reflect and summarize our ultimate goal.  First, it is and remains a weekly newsletter attachment to serve as a consistent accountability and conversation tool for teachers, students, and parents. There's a quote that says, inspect what you expect.  We expect our elementary students to read each and every week.  We completely agree with Mark Barnes and other progressive educators challenging the homework tradition. Our mission is simply to use the form as a clear, concise, and consistent communication vehicle. There's power in having multiple accountability partners.  This our only assigned "homework" school-wide.

Research indicates that ALL children should read each and every night. Furthermore, reading homework is shown to be the best assignment to increase the academic achievement of elementary students. We want to provide our students and parents with the plethora of suggestions to make it exciting and engaging for the entire family. 

This is an inventory, but it does not count number of minutes read, number of books read, or ask students to list the author or titles like a traditional reading "log." Additionally, our teachers were specifically trained to not to offer rewards for completion or collecting the most tallies. The removal of these mundane rituals was based on a phenomenal piece written by Donalyn Miller entitled - The 40 Book Challenge Revisited; and, the insightful piece directed to parents entitled - How to Trick Your Kids Into Reading All Summer Long. We want to use the 'inventory" to build the foundation and routines of life-long readers.

Altered Directions -

Directions:  Over the next week you will be expected to read anything you want for as long as you can and take an inventory. You determine the day and times you will read, and record tally marks every time you complete your reading. Strive to record a tally in as many boxes as you can during the week. Have a parent or guardian sign at the bottom of the page to confirm that you have taken an accurate inventory of your reading experiences.  It’s your choice! Don’t forget to return your inventory results to your teacher every Monday!

"Over the next week..."  This is a manageable length of time for progress monitoring and frequent communication with parents. Each classroom teacher prints a weekly classroom newsletter on the opposite side of the paper.

 "...anything you want..."  Respected literacy author Kylene Beers justifies this phrase beautifully in this tweet: "What's the best program for struggling readers? It's called C-H-O-I-C-E."

"...for as long as you can..." The lack of numerical specificity goes back to the article mentioned above by Daniel Willingham. He gives an insightful example, "If reading were fun (as parents claim), they wouldn’t need to set minimum goals. Parents feel no need to say 'I want to see you on that swing set for twenty minutes every day, mister. And swing like you mean it.'"

Additionally, we know that 15-20 minutes per day is the research-based recommendation.  However, this does not have to be completed all at once.  It can be spread throughout the day, which is important as kids attention spans vary.  Twenty minutes can seem very daunting and unrealistic to over-scheduled working families and restless children.  When students use a combination of several ideas, listed within the inventory, they can easily read substantially more than 20 minutes.

"...tally marks..."  Tally marks are used to infuse mathematical data collection in a method accessible to kindergarteners through 5th graders.  Again, the quantity of tallies is not used for grading, rewards, classroom prizes, or school-wide competitions.

"...every Monday..."  We want our students to read through the week and weekend!

New Headers - 

  • Extending Reading (previously called Shared Reading)
  • Extensive Reading (previously called Wide Reading)
  • Extreme Reading (previously called Wild Reading) 

 Additional weekly options -

  I added more options to give plenty of choice for an entire semester. Teachers can encourage several ideas each week based on the previous week's data! I compiled ideas from several awesome sources:

 Data Analysis-

  • Circling the box with the most tallies  (see bottom right box)
  • Starring the data (to build goal-setting life-long readers) (see bottom right box)
Morning class meetings on Monday:  What did you enjoy reading last week?  What are you excited about reading next week?  What haven't you tried, yet?  Is there anything I help you find for next week?

Teacher Observation:
What are our students choosing each week?  After reviewing weeks of the inventory data, which  suggestions can a teacher praise during a weekly phone call home?  What do we need to promote and model in our classrooms and library?
Semester 2


New & Innovative Ideas to add to the list...

September 2015 - "Read in the laundromat"

As always, I welcome your feedback, questions, and suggestions along this professional learning journey.


  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! Thanks again for sharing. We can't wait to share your newest log with our followers.

    1. WOW! Thank you so very much for your feedback and promoting it too! I appreciate your continued support. I hope we can spread the word and develop a nation of readers!