Assessment in Reading Workshop is always difficult, especially in an education culture that begs for grades at every turn. I always struggle with how to assess my readers without cramming quizzes and tests down their throat at every turn. I do test their basic comprehension when we read class novels- a necessary habit/evil that they must practice in order to be able to do it in middle and high school. Plus, I love our class novels! And they should be easy grades for every student, as long as they pay attention to our class discussions.
Assessing independent novel reading is a struggle for me. I firmly believe in the Atwell school of thought which states that independent reading is pleasure reading. Therefore, testing or grading that reading is counter-productive because it only makes reading a chore. But of course, we need to give grades. I think I finally have an assessment I am happy with this year. It isn’t the be-all-end-all of my grading, but it does provide me with more data about my students as readers while also giving me a quick 5 points/week in our semester grade.
After reading Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop: Making Informed Instructional Decisions in Grades 3-6 by Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak I decided to implement a weekly in-class reading log. I used a basic reading log last year which just asked the students to fill in the title, author, number of pages read, and the date. It served its purpose but I wasn’t getting anything from it. This year I implemented Franki and Karen’s weekly reading long instead. This log asks for the title, author, genre, and pages read. But it also asks for a comment on that day’s reading. So we read for 20-30 minutes and when we stop the kids fill in their comment. Sometimes I shape their comment by asking them to use our daily mini-lesson. For example, we were working on thick vs. thin questions this week so I asked them to write a thick or thin question after their reading. At the end of the week they also fill out one thing they learned about themselves as readers that week and a goal for the next week.
I have now collected the weekly logs twice and I am thrilled with them! They give me a great picture of my kids and their reading. The comments have been getting better with each day and I love seeing how they think about their thinking at the end of each week. Thank you Franki and Karen for the awesome idea!
(For grading, I use a point system and divide the number of points earned by the total points for the marking period for each student. The weekly reading logs are worth 5 points and the only reason a student doesn’t get full credit is if they don’t fill out the log or hand it in incomplete.)