One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching reading can be holding students accountable for their reading. Some times, the stars align and you get a class of readers with only a few reluctant ones. However, what do you do if you have a whole class or majority of reluctant readers? You have to hold them accountable for their reading to get them to become skilled readers. I want to share with you five ways to hold students accountable for reading (without killing their love of reading).
Status of the Class
This one is super simple and, while it takes time in the beginning, it becomes quick and routine. Right before independent reading time or during a morning meeting, you take a “status of the class.” Basically you check in (quickly) with each student on the book they are reading and what page number they are on. You only write the book they are reading down one time for the week. I would even abbreviate the titles for speed. Each day that the student is reading the same book, you simply record the new page number.
This is a quick way to make sure the students are not abandoning books or not reading enough. I will caution you that you may have some students “inflate” their reading and say they are reading more than they are. However, independent reading conferences will quickly solve this problem. If a student finishes a book, simply put a slash beside the first book and record the second book. Here is a form that I use. You can see on Brody’s section that I recorded his second book title, noted that he finished the first book, and then continued recording the page numbers for his new book. Click here to download the form for FREE.
Independent Reading Conferences
I love independent reading conferences. This gives you and the student a chance to spend about 5 minutes talking about his or her book. I mean, who doesn’t love talking about books? This is your time to check in with the students and build that relationship while also making sure they are reading on a regular basis and reading just right books.
Click to read how I conduct independent reading conferences and grab a free guide and a form to keep track of your conferences.
Students love this one the most! They love reading with partners and if your partners are assigned (or chosen by the students) appropriately, they will hold themselves accountable. You may need to spend some time teaching your students how to read with partners. Also, if you want to make this a bit more accountable (other than peer accountability), do some peer independent reading conferences.
Create a Reading Dialogue
This is similar to the independent conferences mentioned above. However, for creating a reading dialogue, I like to use reader’s response journals or blogs to talk with the students about their books and eventually allow them to talk to one another. They can’t participate if they haven’t read because they will have nothing new to bring to the table.
Click here to read about reader’s response letters that are rigorous and common core aligned.
Click here to read about using Kidblog, which is a great option for creating a dialogue about books via a blog.
This one is my favorite! I love book talks so much. I can’t even describe the teacher feeling in my heart when a student gets up in the front of the class to talk about and share a book they recently read and loved. When the other students ask the student questions about the book, I melt. Literally. Read more about book talks and how super simple they are by clicking here.
Those are my favorite strategies for keeping my students accountable for their reading without giving them busy work or causing them to begin to dislike reading. These accountability strategies will actually strengthen their love of reading. How do you hold your readers accountable for their reading? Let me know in the comments.
I started to use Status of the Class about 5 years ago and haven’t looked back! I have a recording sheet for each student in a binder so it’s merely a flip of the page as I check in w kiddos. This allows me to quickly see if students have “favorites” and need a nudge to try something else. Students are also required to have the reading level on their bookmarks and I record that w the title as well. Since each sheet is for an individual student I can tell at a glance if a student has chosen a just right book. I also keep a record of books abandoned so that I can help those students who are having difficulty find a book they might better enjoy and give them a few recommendations. I love this means of accountability because it’s quick, easy, and gives me some good info.
Jennifer Findley says
Becky, thank you for sharing that method. It sounds very organized and super easy to implement!
Katy E says
I started a Status of the Class report this week! My students love tracking their progress and I love having an at-a-glance tool for checking in with each of them. Yours is one of my favorite blogs because your entries never fail to meet the trifecta 1.) simple, 2.) effective, and 3.) beautiful. No pressure…! Ha!
Jennifer Findley says
Thank you, Katy! That means so much that you say that! I will try to keep providing those types of entries!
Maria paz mettao says
Hi! Ms. Jen, thanks for this excellent strategy and resources as well. I have quite a similar method I use in my class, where each student chooses a book for them to read at home, and share to the whole class the next day. I provide them with daily log sheets where they record the informations such as ;titles and authors and how much time they spent reading the books, with parents signature on it…to ensure that they read independently. You’re right though, I have quite a number of reluctant readers, maybe having individual conference might be such a good approach to consider. Thanks again.
Courtney K. says
I teach middle school and have my kids for a two period block. I’m worried that I wouldn’t have enough time for Status of the Class, but I love the idea. I have two ways of keeping track – a reading bingo card and a reading spreadsheet. The students have individual bingo cards that have a different genre/category of book in each square. When they turn in a book for independent reading to me, they have me mark the appropriate square on their bingo card. This pushes them to vary their reading and read genres they might not usually try. In addition, my students are required to read a certain amount of pages per quarter, and they turn the book in to me when they finish by giving me a real brief rundown. I sometimes ask them a few questions too. When I’m satisfied, I enter the pages in the spreadsheet for the students.
I’m toying with the idea of adding more to the spreadsheet than just pages though. Perhaps more of a “status of the class” type of spreadsheet.
Thank you! The forms and ideas are so simple and brilliant! I needed something like this to kick start my year on a positive note in reading – my class is fighting me! Love these ideas! I can’t wait to implement them!
I teach middle school and have a large number of student, so status of the class would not work for me. However, my kids log their reading, and on Fridays, I check their logs and conference with each student as they have independent reading time that day. It is great to discuss books with each child and put a personal spin on it. I am preparing to try literature circles with students signing up for mini book clubs for reading and discussing the same book according to interest.
Jennifer, I love the article and all the documents you are sharing to help us implement these suggestions. I’m having trouble getting the last link to work. Will you please check the link for book talks and see if it still works for you? Thanks Jennifer!
Jennifer Findley says
Hi Denise, it works for me but try this direct link below and see if that helps you:
That should work! Thanks for letting me know you had problems with the link.
Brilliant! I love the independent conferences! Can’t wait to test it out someday:)
I use Google Classrooms for my Status of the Class. I teach middle school and love th activity but don’t always feel I can afford the time. They check in every Monday and Thursday so I can check their progress.
Sarah Thompson says
Would you be willing to share a screen shot of what this looks like?
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Hi Jennifer! Thank you for creating and sharing all of these wonderful resources!! I wish I could come shadow you for a week!!! I was wondering more about strategy groups, rather than guided reading groups. Do you have resources for specific strategies you work on with students, and HOW do you identify groups for the strategies?
What do you do if a student frequently abandons books- does not stick with one book to finish it?
Clegenatur Methods Review says
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