I realized some things as I ran today. Running is solitary. I’m all alone, in my head. As I run I’m composing, revising, rethinking. Sometimes by the end of a run, I’ve got a great idea. Sometimes I follow through on that idea. But mostly I don’t.
Writing pushes me think an idea through and to next steps. During my run I was thinking of the recent post on Teaching to the Core : “One of the biggest bang-for-your-buck Common Core standards is W.CCR.10, which basically says, ‘Write frequently for many reasons.’ “ So true for me personally. Writing has provided the biggest bang for my learning as a teacher. I’ve revised, edited and most importantly published them, for someone to read. This process makes it so much bigger than just those musings I had in my head. Through the process of writing, my ideas are better and the process of making them public pushes me to live up to those words.
Running today I thought about goal setting. I injured my ankle in May and couldn’t run for a month. I slowly and carefully started running again. It was a struggle because of the injury. I carefully managed and measured my running by time and distance on a treadmill. That way I gradually got stronger as I set goals for myself. I started running again in June at 5 minutes/10 minute pace. Today I ran 4.6 miles in 39 minutes. I was a fragile, injured runner, but by setting goals and gradually increasing, I’m much stronger.
This leads me to my struggle with reading logs. I know on many levels logs do not speak the truth about a reader, they drive parents crazy, and many students have a very difficult time keeping track of them. I want to abandon the paper lunacy of logging in logging out, tracking, and incentivizing. So I’ve been leaning strongly toward no logs. Requiring one book a week, 40 books during the school year, and public responses to reading as measures of student accountability. But, there is one thing missing from this scenario: goal setting.
I asked my students about the possibility of giving up logs for a different way of measuring our reading. They were uncomfortable with letting logs go. Many saw it as a way of showing the teacher they are reading. Most said they have been unsuccessful keeping up with them in the past, but promised that this year would be better! I had them write about it and one-third felt that reading logs helped them by keeping them on track “so I could see if I read or not.” Another said it was “like a teacher that pushed me.” These responses came from fragile readers. The strong were willing to give it up. Makes me think of myself as a fragile runner. I needed that treadmill because it helped me set goals and tracked my progress. When I was strong, I hated the treadmill because it constrained me.
My students spoke. I need to create a system that accommodates these readers: those who need to measure their reading, visually. Something that builds them up to become stronger readers. Perhaps another thing for those who are constrained by logs. I’m thinking of a lined post it, that moves through the book as a book mark and allows students to measure or track their reading. When finished with the book the post it becomes a part of their reading portfolio. I’ll run this idea by them tomorrow. We’ll test it out.
Any ideas about measuring reading? Please post a thought.