Toby Murphy DEMAREST MIDDLE, DEMAREST, NJ
8th Grade ELA : Unit #10 - Independent Reading : Lesson #4

Independent Reading Reflection Essay for Marking Period 3

Objective: SWBAT write about their independent reading focusing on difficulty of books, goals, and reading rate.
Standards: RL.8.10 W.8.9 W.8.10
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Determining Reading Rate - 30 minutes

My students are obsessed with numbers. They are also big into outperforming themselves in any way that is based off data. I give them the opportunity to see if their reading rate, the amount of pages they can read in a half an hour, has changed from last marking period. This is the first step in a lesson that may take a few days. The overall arc of this lesson is to work on creating a reading essay for marking period three that focuses on their independent reading and the work they have been doing outside of school as they grow as independent readers.

I devote 30 minutes of class to giving students time to read. I give them a post-it and have them write down the page of the book they are currently on. After thirty minutes, I have them write down how many pages they read within this 30 minute time. I then give them the amount of pages they read last time we did this at the end of marking period two. They will compare the numbers to see if they grew in the amount of pages they are able to read in a given time. This will be the first step in creating the marking period three reading essay, which focuses on lives as independent readers.

There is no clear answer to the amount of pages students need to read to show growth. Many students are reading different books than previously, some are harder and some easier. I tell them to keep that in mind but to think about if they are able to read 30 minutes in one sitting.

Here is an example of a student's work on determining her reading rate: Reading Rate Pre-Writing Student Example and here she discusses her overall reading rate: MP3 Reading Rate Student Explanation 1.

This video is another student discussing her reading rate and how it has changed: MP3 Reading Rate Student Explanation 2.

2 Direct Instruction: Review of Reading Essay Powerpoint - 10 minutes

Students have created a marking period reading essay in the past, so the steps for today are nothing new. I do not spend as much time going over the expectation since we done it before but instead spend some time quickly reviewing the requirements. There's no need to waste time repeating directions for an assessment they've already done.

I begin by pulling up the MP3 Reading Essay Requirements and Steps Powerpoint on the Smartboard. Instead of taking the time to review each step separately, I review it as a whole.

  1. Step 1 focuses on determining their reading rate. They will figure out how many pages they could have read in the marking period (based on the amount they read earlier in the lesson) to the amount of pages they actually read. They should have been keeping track of this in their reading log, which includes their weekly reading. 
  2. Step 2 focuses on creating a reading ladder. This is a list of all the books they have read since the beginning of the year in order of difficulty. This helps them to see the bigger picture of themselves as independent readers and whether or not they have been challenging themselves in the books they have been choosing to reader.
  3. Step 3 focuses on setting reading goals for the fourth and last marking period. These goals are based on whether or not they accomplished goals from the previous marking period. They make these goals based on amount of books, pages, genres, and difficulty of book.
  4. Step 4 focuses on writing the essay. The pull in all the information from the first three steps to create a full length essay which answers the following questions and includes information from the first three steps:
  • What have you read this marking period that has challenged you?
  • How have you improved this marking period?
  • How you can you improve next marking period?

I love reading these essays. I think it's a great chance for a teacher to see how students have improved and it also give students the confidence they need to show themselves that they in fact readers. Students are very defeatist at times so anyway I can boost up the ego, I go for.

These ideas and work came from a great resource called Book Love by Penny Kittle. If you haven't read it, read it.

Throughout this process I also show students my own reading essay for the third marking period: Sorge MP3 Reading Essay Example. It's such a powerful tool to discuss one's own reading life with students. They respond really well to it and they can definitely learn from it. Modeling is key!

3 Independent Practice: Writing Time - 23 minutes

The rest of class time is devoted to students working on creating the whole essay. They may begin to pre-write by jotting down notes about each step, while others prefer to jump into writing an essay.

This is also a great time for a teacher to conference. It's actually my favorite part of teaching. I love when I have the chance to chat with students one on one about their work. Since this type of essay does not have the stigma of grading students tend to be more relaxed and thoughtful when writing it and therefore we can have a great conference and discussion.

Many of the conferences focus on individual needs. I talk about certain categories with each student depending on what can help them the most. Higher level students really respond to questions about difficulty of books and whether or not they have been challenging themselves. Higher-level thinkers can make those judgement calls. Other students may need a discussion about developing a reading habit. We can work together to discuss ways that they can read at home and meet their goals for the next marking period.

Here are two examples of student work for this essay: MP3 Reading Essay Student Example 1 and MP3 Reading Essay Student Example 2

Students Using Their Own Data
Student Ownership

I am not a data person. I hate numbers and I hate analyzing them. Maybe that makes me a bad teacher but I am not hard-wired that way, at least that's the excuse. Since I'm not, I give students the responsibility to analyze their own data in order to make goals for the future. This lesson allows students to analyze different forms of data based on their independent reading. They can look at the amount of books they've read, the amount of pages they read, and the time they can read for in one sitting. They can use this in order to make individualized goals for next marking period. When they make individualized goals they tend to be more realistic with themselves and feel more comfortable in making them then the goals I would give them as a teacher.