Thursday, August 8, 2013

Using Personal Reading Timelines to Reflect & Set Goals

The school year is upon us, and I can't help but think about those first few days.  How do we start our readers off on the right foot?  I have also been thinking a lot about the importance of our students being emotionally connected and invested in the work we do at school.  This week, I had the opportunity to attend a Social Justice Institute at UW-Milwaukee and many of the conversations I had with my colleagues were around the importance of positive relationships we have with our students.  This is so critical!  Some of this work, building relationships with our students and allowing our students into our lives, should link to what we are doing in our Reading (and Writing) Workshops within the first few days of the school year.

I think it is crucial for kids to learn how to reflect on their lives as learners.  In the beginning of the year, and throughout the year, we can teach students how to be reflective on their reading lives and practices.

On the first day of school, during Reading Workshop, you may choose to focus your mini lesson on creating an emotional Reading Timeline.  While you model creating your own timeline, you are teaching students to think about their reading life and what has worked and not worked for them as readers. While students create their timeline, you can begin conferring with your kids, getting to know them as readers. During the share component of the Workshop, students may have time to talk with a partner about their timeline.

A next step (or you could start here), could be to have students elaborate on their reading life timeline with quick notes.  For some, it is easier to "talk it out", so offering talk time before elaborating may be useful.
Another type of timeline for students to create is one that focuses on the books students have read.  This can help facilitate conversations around the types of readers you have in your room.  Students can start to build relationships with one another as readers and offer suggestions.  You will also get insight as to the types of books a student likes and dislikes.

An important step in all of this is reflecting and goal setting.  Creating timelines should be for a reason.  Teaching students how to use the "reading-life data" they have collected to reflect and set goals is essential.  Below are some samples of how this might look.  First, identifying what has worked for "me" as a reader.  Second, what has not worked for "me" as a reader.  Finally, creating goals around these reflections... knowing that this goal (or these goals) will be reflected on.

You can help your students "keep these notebook pages alive" by revisiting the timelines throughout the year and asking students where they fall "emotionally" on the timeline during the given point of the year and why.

I believe that the relationships we have with each student has great impacts on their motivation and achievement.

Most importantly, as teachers, we influence our students' reading life greatly. Strive to be part of the reason for the "smiley face" on a child's reading timeline.

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