February 7, 2016

Using Free Resources to Create Standards Based Reading Homework

Reading homework is a challenge. You want the kids to read their own novels or books at home at night, but have no way of knowing if they really do. Your book lovers will, your students with supportive parents will, but you have some that just won't. Over the last several years I have tried many different approaches.

For a while I did a reading log. They had to read so many minutes a night and then their parents signed off saying they did it. This solved some problems, but not all of them. Some parents would sign and not pay attention, and other parents would forget to sign and then the children would cry and reassure you they actually did do the reading. Worst of all, just because they were sitting with a book in their hands doesn't mean they were actually reading.

After running into issues with that, I found an adorable monthly reading "MENU" which had the students choose from different activities to do throughout the week based upon their book. So, I was addressing the problem of parents signing a reading log, and students had to be reading (at least somewhat) in order to do most of the activities on the menu. But, this menu came with new problems. The activities were cute but not necessarily on grade level or standards based. As adorable as a photograph of the story is, for 3rd graders it's not always the best option. My new principal this year is leading the way in the district for standards based instruction, and I have to say while it did seem like a lot of extra work on my part at first, I was fully on board once I understood what she was looking for. And sadly..... this adorable appetizer, entree, dessert just wasn't going to cut it.

So thinking and thinking, searching and searching, and the PERFECT idea came to me. So, now what am I using? I'm so glad you asked? #iwasgonnashareanyways There are so many fantastic resources out there to us as teachers that are FREE. Don't get me wrong I love #TPT and I have purchased some amazing products over the years, but there are some places to get tons of resources by just signing up, most of them are very well known. Read Works and NEWSELA are my favorites!!!! So many amazing passages all available to us instantly.

It's so simple! The students get one passage or article (less than 3 pages) each week. They also get a cover sheet, which has their instructions for the week. I created two, one informational and one fiction, that I tweak slightly depending on what skill we are focusing on that week or something I know they need extra practice in. For the most part though, they look very similar. This is great for us, it provides consistency. Students and parents are understanding what is expected with little assistance from us, and it's a great indicator of how well a student is grasping a concept. BONUS, the article is pretty short so it still allows students ample time for reading for pure enjoyment. My principal loved this so much she took it to her data meeting with the area superintendent, who then shared it with other principals. #YIKES #LOVEIT

It's not beautiful but boy does it work. Here is an example of a cover sheet and article turned in by a student.

As you can see it can be used with almost any non-fiction article, and most fiction stories. I have tweaked it slightly (format wise) throughout the last few months. You can sang your fiction cover sheet by clicking for your FREEBIE HERE and the informational cover sheet by clicking for your FREEBIE HERE

Fonts from KG Fonts and Hello Literacy
I hope you enjoy :) 

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