Once upon a time, I read a blog post by a fellow 3rd grade teacher. She wrote about this super awesome product that she made that was a challenge for her students to read 30 books during 3rd grade. I was totally pumped and put the item on my TPT wish list. A bit later when I was ready to purchase this super fabulous product, it was no longer available in her store. I left her a comment on the blog about how excited I had been to try the product but was sad it was no longer there. She emailed me back and said there might be a possible issue with the inspiration for the product but offered to send it to me anyway for free. She did, I love it and my 3rd graders and I are living happily ever after.
For reals. Marianna over at It Happened in 3rd is kind of like my hero right now. Seriously. Partly because a) she made this awesome product and b) she shared it with me for free because I was so interested in using it even though she was unsure about selling it after some drama (not aimed at her) around the inspiration for the product.
I have been meaning to write this post for awhile because I really do love using this product and I'm so, so grateful that she was so kind and shared it so willingly. With my trip to Minnesota for the Teacher Powered Schools conference (which was fantabulous) and conferences the last two weeks, I haven't had time to really think let alone make a blog post about this. So here goes nothing :)
Since I teach in the inner city, time spent in texts is even more important for my young friends. Our students, many of whom are language learners also, tend to come to kindergarten well behind in their reading skills and a lot of them are not read to anywhere but at school. I have 29 students in my 3rd grade class and a big chunk of them are at a kindergarten or 1st grade reading level (yikes!). Thus I needed to find something to inspire them to read without making it into a huge issue.
I learned super fast that this group of students I have are very competitive. They love to try to meet challenges. So this 30 in 3rd reading challenge is PERFECT.
Here's how we set it up.
First, each kiddo got a file folder. (Totally high tech, right?) I recycled them from years past when I used them for student files.
Then I made each friend a library card. They are just index cards a label on them that we then laminated. (Side note: I may have laminated more stuff in 3rd grade this year than I have in my entire career combined!) I wrote the kiddo's Lexile from the fall MAP test and then the color code they are in for our classroom library (which was labeled by colors well before we ever started using Lexile). This is one of my higher leveled kiddos. I picked his to show just because I knew it would be neat and organized :)
The kids keep that laminated card inside the 30 in 3rd folders which they keep in their book box. (This allows me to check them any time I want since I don't have to dig into their desk for them.) Inside are the pages from the product that Marianna shared with me so generously.
This first page is a tracking sheet to help the students make sure they are reading a wide variety of books. The kids were so excited to see they got to pick 8 books of whatever genre they liked! :) I ask them to fill this part out when they FINISH a book.
This is the other tracking page. Each time my friends change books they are to write the name of the book and the author. As they finish it, they put the date (this friend put 10-15 each time because he thought I wanted the month and year *wink*) and then they rate whether or not they liked the book. This helps me to know what kinds of books to recommend in the classroom library or our school library if the student is having a hard time finding a book at any given time.
In keeping with my uber fancy tracking (hello recycled file folders), we are using this pocket chart to track our progress. I only check the folders every couple of weeks. The students know that I might ask them about their books at any time so they should actually be reading and finishing the stories. It is only once the book has a "finished" date that they move up on our chart. We have several friends who have already hit the 5 or 10 mark.
The students on the very bottom are either a) not being very serious about their reading or b) are higher readers with longer books that is taking them much longer to get through their books. My lower readers who have easier books are asked to read each of their books 3 times before they mark it as "finished" so that it is fair since their books are shorter.
I LOVE this. Really. A lot of it is an honor system and I don't count at home reading for this. This one is solely in-class reading because it is reading that I can monitor and ensure they are doing it. Each time students have been allowed to change their books and update their folder, I collect them so I can check up on their progress. Only one student has not been honest on her log and all of the other friends have been able to talk to me about their books which is awesome.
The reading challenge has been a great and motivating addition to our class, especially for my lower readers. The other day my student teacher was helping some of the kiddos update their books and one of our students, who is very, very sweet but struggles to read proclaimed "Mrs. Wood was right, reading IS fun" and I know that this book challenge is helping her find reading more fun and motivating too :)