Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reading is un-Bead-lievingly Fun!

I'm pretty sure this is the first summer in 6 years I have yet to work on some sort of school related project.  I'm not going to lie--I kind of feel guilty about it but at the same time, have enjoyed every MOMENT of my "freedom"  which we all know is hard to come by once August comes along. 

I made a promise to myself that I would enjoy the entire month of June and not focus on "school" until after the Fourth of July--well, my promise seems to have been extended since we are now into the final two weeks of July. #sorrynotsorry

With multiple house projects and weddings going on back to back to back, I have yet to even THINK about what to work on first for the upcoming school year. I always like to do something "new" to keep me excited about going back to school {which I don't even know when that is yet--is that wrong of me?}  So until I decide, I thought I'd share some things YOU may want to try for the upcoming year! And I promise it won't cost you an arm and a leg either to get it together! :)

To Read or Not To Read--The POWER Behind a Reading Log

I know, I know.  We all assign our littles to read for 20+ minutes every night as part of their homework.  In the past, once students have filled up a reading log (about one month's worth of reading),  I've allowed them to cash in by choosing a classroom coupon reward (Stinky Feet, Teacher's Desk, Friendly Lunch, Hat Day, etc.).  It seemed to work well, however it was difficult for me to monitor WHICH students were turning in their logs and how often...some not at all! Like the "As Seen on TV" commercials, I knew there had to be a better way!

I'm not a huge fan of always GIVING students a prize for doing what is expected of them, however, I do feel their is a fine line between spoiling and encouraging.  I chose to go the encouraging route with my At Home Reading Logs and it has proven to be successful--Enter-Reading Beads!  

Grab your Home Reading Log Bundle HERE!

Each night, students are to asked read  for 20 minutes {minimum} and record it on their log, which begins on Friday and ends on Thursday.  To start off the year I add the date to each section to help keep them a little bit more organized.  I check each student's log Friday during our Fun Friday Centers.  This is wonderful because I am able to meet with EACH student and talk to them about what they enjoyed reading this week and any new information they've discovered along the way! I know this sounds like it would be time consuming, but trust me, once you get rolling and the students know the drill, it takes but one minute per student, and I think it's fair after how hard they've worked throughout the week, we can give them that! *The one minute does not include stringing the bead to their necklace--that may take some time for their little fingers to get used to.  I've had a few that already knew how to work the necklaces, so they were deemed the "stringers" until others got the hang of it! :)

Materials You Will Need:

Bead Necklaces-Purchased Through Amazon in a set of 100 necklaces

Beads of your Choosing
*Although I absolutely DESPISE Walmart, they were the best route for purchasing these beads.  I've used these for the entire year and they still look brand new! So yes you are spending some money up front, but it will last you for years to come!

Board or Safe Place to Display your Reading Beads & Necklaces

Don't mind my last minute sign--my updated Reading Log Pack includes something a little prettier :)

How the Beads Work...
For every 100 minutes read {20 minutes each night x 5 nights=100 minutes} students earn a BEAD of their choosing to place onto their necklace.  I kept the necklaces on a wrapping paper wrapped piece of foam board {with student numbers on top} so it could be easily moved depending on where I was meeting with students that week.

Once I checked their log, I marked my initials next to that week, and recorded the number of minutes read on the Teacher Copy--this was great for conference time and overall documentation.  Having everything on one page for each month made it SOOOO much easier for me to keep track of, not to mention it took no time at all!  I like that :) 

Teacher Tracker

Student Recording Sheet/ Parent Intials (graph located on the back side of this sheet)

At the end of each month, I collect each students' log and place it in their School Artifacts folder

Students were permitted to wear their necklaces on Friday and oh my goodness, were they SO proud to do so! They loved explaining to others in the building what the beads meant and how many total minutes they've read so far (math integration, baby!).  They returned their necklaces to the board at the end of the day and the process began all over again.  This was also a part of their end of the year gift, which is when they got to take them home forever!  Great little keepsake that was complied since the first few weeks of school. <3 

Sometimes I put "Reading Beads" as a Fun Friday Center--if students finished all their work from the week, after they receive their bead, they were able to work together on one of our classroom iPads.  Tried to do this when we had things we needed to catch up on or if I needed to meet with students to conference. 

 One improvement I'm going to try for this upcoming year, is to add a cute little laminated cut out with their name to each necklace {a medal-like circle, dog tag oval shape, etc.} We had a few instances last year where they fell off their hook or were left on their desk Friday afternoon and {at the beginning of the year} made it difficult to determine who's was who's since there were only a few beads strung to each necklace.  Not a major issue, but the engineering portion of my brain is always improving!

So the point to all this is does it work? Let me just say, all of my students were Fluently Proficient Readers by the end of the year!  I've even had a colleague comment on how BEAUTIFULLY my little ones read!  Certainly made my day, but also made me think, "What am I doing differently this year than I have done in the past?"  I know-Reading Beads!!  No, wearing a necklace full of beads doesn't magically make your students better readers, but it does make them more accountable for their reading!

I know what you're thinking, "Couldn't a parent just fill in their log without them having to read at all?" Yes, they could.  However, meeting and discussing with students what they read during the week will put them in the "hot seat" so to speak.  Us teachers are always able to spot a tall-tale and can be addressed with both the student {and parent} as needed.  You could even distribute a little Reader Response once or twice a month based on a book they've read {at home} that week for a little added writing and reflection bonus.  

The great thing about these necklaces is you can use them for so many other things, too!  As the year went on and I challenged my students in other areas, (earned an A on your math test, became an Independent Speller {aka challenge list} for an entire month, brought in items needed for the class/ lesson, caught doing a good deed for others, etc.) students earned a SPECIAL bead to add to their necklace (I used the larger star beads which I emptied out and kept in my old spice jars for easy access and organization).  They LOVED counting how many special beads they had and even remembered what they earned them for--I'm wondering if next year I could write the date on when they received their "special" bead for a little something extra...hmmm....might take too much of a steady hand, which during the school year I don't think I have...#WeShallSee

As the year progressed and students understood the concept and routine of reading each night, I began to challenge them a little bit more {their faces were priceless when I told them they even had to read on Fridays--as if that were against the law or something!}  Those students who read 100+ minutes each week, were permitted to place a SPARKLE bead on their necklace instead of a regular colored one {this bead set included sparkle, plain, and iridescent type beads which doesn't even look as if I've put a dent in it yet! And trust me, it has been used!} It was just a little something for those students who went above what was required.  I didn't make a huge deal out of the sparkle beads {as to not cause any "dishonesty" with my little nuggets}, but it was just a way to let those students who read 100+  minutes week after week know I noticed, and was very proud of their efforts. <3  

By the end of the year it was so precious and heartwarming watching them count all of their beads by 100s to determine how many minutes they've read throughout the school year!  They couldn't believe how much time they've spent reading!!! 

You can grab a copy of my Reading Log Bundle on my Teachers Pay Teaches store HERE.  For those of you who have already purchased a copy, be sure to download the updated version with a few more bonus files to help make the most out of your Reading Log assignments in the classroom!

Let's Get BEADing! 
- Enjoy :)


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