So I’m not going to do reading logs this year.

I dislike homework. It’s a pain to put together, it’s a pain to grade and record, and I tend to read the research speaking against it. If memory serves me correctly, I had no homework until junior high. Why in the world do I want my 2nd graders having homework?

Last school year and the year before I had great plans to do away with homework. And then came our Wildly Important Goal. I’m up those WIGs, don’t get me wrong. But when I found out we were tracking homework and reading minutes? Curse being a team player! So I dutifully sent home homework so we would have something to track, though in retrospect couldn’t the zero homework be included in that tracking? Fortunately, by last school year the homework tracking had been nixed, but still we had to track reading minutes. So I simplified my homework to largely reading minutes, which still included printing and stapling and counting and tallying up totals I’m not sure I trusted.

This year began with more talk of WIGs. I prepared myself for another year of reading log drama on my part only to find, to my deepest delight, our WIGs were moving in another direction.

I could very well be free of reading minutes. No great authority is insisting I record them. And why in the world do kids have to be tracking reading minutes? I have no memory of tracking reading minutes in my own school years. Kids read, it’s their job as students and with any luck they learn to like it.

Last summer I read Debbie Miller’s Reading in the Wild, her follow-up to The Book Whisperer. Her focus is on getting kids to read, not “making them”. I sure would love to raise a class of second graders in the ways of wild reading because what is cuter than a bunch of 7-year-olds happily clutching their books in the way any child ought to be enamored of a book?

Yet does the tracking of reading minutes do anything to help with this? Sure, you have those particular children who like to jot everything down, but that seems something they could do on their own. I am positive I had a bunch of kids last year who just colored in whatever on their reading minute sheets and had their parents sign whatever. Because, who cares?

This year, I’m doing something different. No reading logs. Nada. At least as that apply to me. I created my class letter template for the year and sure enough I provided a few varieties of reading logs to go with it…with the explicit instruction these were for individual use as needed/desired only. I didn’t want them back.

What I do want is my students reading. Wild readers do read at home, and I want to mess with the minds of my 2nd graders until they view reading at home as a normal, daily activity. An enjoyable one and a necessary one. You know, reading like it is one of those things one just does because that is what one just does.

In my class letter I will talk up reading. I will ask questions to consider, all coming from the view that I assume they are reading. I will possibly attempt to create a new normal for some of them, one that goes beyond the assumed required reading. You’re a student, you’re a child, you’re a human. You will read.

Maybe I’ll get a few wild readers.

Cleaning my house with a bar of soap

Some years ago I hopped on the bandwagon of DIY cleaners, leaving behind the college life white glove check store run where we grabbed something for every project. Vinegar baking soda, a use for the essential oils I just can’t seem to use medicinally, and, of course, soap. The book I originally used as my bible for this often spoke of castile soap, so I bought that and I still keep as bottle around as my cleaning supply. But I waxed more lazily.

These days I clean the house with a bar of soap. Bath soap. Cetaphil brand, to be sincere. Amazon Vine gave me a 6-pack of those last year and they failed to mesh with my husband’s skin. I was currently using other soap, so I just opened up one of the bars and used it clean stuff.

I love it.

When I first began cleaning with a bar of deodorizing skin clarifying soap, I sought approval. The interweb didn’t provide much, mostly suggestions on ways to use bar soap that ultimately weren’t cleaning anything. But those soapy housecleaning rebels were out there, also seeming to feel a tad awkward over their delve into cleaning with soap.

But why not? What were people cleaning with before fancy cleaning products? Soap. Soap that was hanging around the house and offering so many wonderful cleansing uses.

I still have a few general cleaning products, but one of those bars of soap sits on my kitchen windowsill waiting to be used.

How do I use this soap?

  1. I run it under some hot water to make a nice soapy water mix.
  2. I rub it over a cleaning rag and scrub away.
  3. I rub in my microfiber mop pad.
  4. I shred it up and use it for laundry soap.

And it works, comparatively with any other green cleaning method or commercial cleaner. I can leave the soap water on a gross stovetop for a few minutes, then wipe. I friggin’ mop with it.

My stuff is clean. The house smells nice because soap has that lovely soapy smell. It’s so easy to use and it’s as teeny as anything.

Soap. Why were you abandoned in the cleaning world?cetaphil