Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reading Logs: Paper vs. Digital...motivating? YES!

Since we are doing the Samsung Galaxy tablet pilot this year, I needed a way to keep track of all of the things we tried in our class; the successes and failures, different apps, and websites that we used so that I will be all the more ready for next year!  I started writing my thoughts in a notebook, and still do from time to time, but I too eventually had to migrate to archiving our experiences with technology...
Another daily activity we have handed over to the Galaxy tablets, is our daily reading log.  I cannot tell you how much trouble I had getting my students to fill out their paper reading logs on a daily basis!  Until we got our tablets and I made the decision to work towards a paperless classroom, this was one of our biggest battles! 
Many of my students assured me that yes, they did read, (and I totally believed them), but that they had just forgotten to fill out the reading log or their parent couldn't sign it.  I didn't blame them, the thing just looked boring!  But I graded them anyways, and many did not do so well.  So I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and I made a new reading log with stricter and more clear requirements, thinking that this would motivate them.  It didn't help so much. 
What did help?  The tablets, of course!  And an app that I found which allowed the students to time themselves as they read with a digital clock!  The app automatically tracks their reading on a daily basis.  It logs the book name, date, and time, and students, parents, and teachers can view reports on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.  In this way, students can easily look for patterns in their reading and evaluate if they are reaching their reading goals at home and school (or not). 
In order to assess, instead of leafing through 50 crumpled up pieces of paper written in rubbed off pencil or in ink that was smeared, I was able to quickly look at each student's log on their tablet to make sure they were reading the required amount of time each night.  Eventually, my students were taking screen shots and turning them in to me through Edmodo.  They loved this! (so did I!)
Based on the positives I have observed this year, next year, I will definitely use a digital reading log.  I may stick with this app, or I might try Scholastic Reading Timer (also available for Apple devices, of course), which was not originally available for Android when we started our pilot. (It is now!)
I included the link for this Android app below.  It has some pretty good reviews and if you/or your students are Android users, you should definitely check it out!
Android Reading Log App

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