Classroom fun: reading journals!

As a big reader, I am a massive massive fan of encouraging my children to think about what they’re reading and reflecting on it. One of the things that I inherited when I moved into Year 6 almost 2 years ago was reading journals and I have embraced them fully, but also changed their use!

Children used to only do reading journals as part of their reading homework. I wanted to make it so that reading journals could become an integral part of our every day lives in the class and become something that we shared and enjoyed together. It’s so important that book life is part of class life and I really think reading journals are something that are helping in my classroom.

Great. How does it work?

Each child has a reading journal – a jotter sized book.

Every half term, I stick in a new set of reading journal activities.

Every half term, I expect a certain number of activities to be completed – this changes half term by half term, but also child by child. You know your children; you know (and they should know) what is expected of them. For example, my desired number of activities completed this half term is 5 – I know there are some children who will excel this (as I expect them to) and I know there will be some children who, for a range of reasons, will complete 3-4. I know my kids well and I have high expectations of them all, so 5 in a 7 week half term is more than doable!

I see. When do they do this?

Every afternoon, after lunch, I have a 15 minute reading slot. Without fail, every day, we all read for 10-15 minutes (including me!). In those 15 minutes, they may read their book, or, if they’ve finished their book, they can use that time to complete a reading journal. Once they’ve completed a task, they pop it in the box for me/my wonderful TA to mark!

It really is that simple. Do they need some training to do it? Yes. Do they need reminders about expectations? Yes. Make it a habit and they really will embrace it. I’ve gone from having a few reluctant readers (not a phrase I like) to having a class of 31 children who every single day read. My 15 minutes of reading every day is something I hold very dear. I would be MUCH aggrieved if someone tried to take it away from me!

Oooh. What kids of activities do you get them to do?

A massive range.

Each child gets the same sheet of activities. Each child has the same high expectations of them. What they produce based on that task can vary massively!

This is a picture of this half term activities:

As you can see, some activities take longer than others and some are more involved than others. They have the range of activities to choose from. I don’t tend to let them do the same activity more than once – just so I can see a range of responses to their tasks!

Children don’t need to do a task on every book they finish (unless of course, they only read 5 books… the number I expect the majority to complete). If they choose to do a task on every book, that’s fine with me!

This half term, I introduced this sheet below. I’ve underlined finished because I’m a firm believer in not making children finish a book they’re not enjoying. Yes, I have some serial DNFers, but it’s something we are slowly working on. After every book a child finishes, they just do a simple rating.

Interesting… have you got any examples I can see?

Yes! Here’s only a few examples of activities completed by children of varying abilities and varying tasks.

The tasks above were from Autumn 1:

  • Write a postcard from the main character
  • Compare the main characters in the last 2 books you read – how are they the same? How are they different?
  • Write a new blurb for the book

I’m more than happy to share other examples if you’d like to see (just let me know in the comments, or talk to me on twitter!)

Perfect. I love the look of this. Where do I start?

Great. I really do love reading journals. I love marking them. I love seeing what the kids have taken from the books.

Below is a copy of my Autumn 2 challenges and the ‘Books I finished’ sheet for you to download!

And that’s about it from me for now!

If you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them! Let me know on twitter (@eenalol).

Happy reading… and journaling!

S x

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