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.