Sunday, September 14, 2014

Digilit Sunday - Reading Responses

      I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.  
     Today, I listened to SoundCloud because one of my best friend's daughters is off at college, and she posted a song by her on Facebook.  Her daughter's dream is to be a Broadway star.  I couldn't figure out how to embed it, but you can listen to it here.  Yes, Ellie has a beautiful voice!  That's not why I'm blogging about it, though.  I was wondering if it would be a good place for my students to record reading responses.
     Last year, inspired by Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, I assigned my students weekly reading response letters in their notebooks.  I was soon buried in a mountain of grading since I had over a hundred students last year.  I reduced it to monthly letters (I had to chuckle when I read Reading in the Wild and saw that she had the same issue and talked about giving more response choices).  I still didn't feel like the letters were very inspired, and it was still a lot of grading.  I'd like to give them more of a choice in their responses this year. 
     I also required quarterly book talks.  When assigning these, I imagined short books talks that would be spread out over the quarter and would get kids excited about reading each other's recommendations.  What I got instead were some elaborate (don't get me wrong - I really loved some of them, especially if they involved treats) talks, all put off to the last week of the quarter, so we had no time to do anything but watch book talk after book talk for a solid week.
     So now I need to figure out what I'd like to do that would engage students in choice, authentic responding, use of creative digital tools, and would show me they are interacting with their independent books, but wouldn't require hours and hours of grading on top of what I'm already grading.  Could SoundCloud be an option?  Could they record a spoken review?  Respond in spoken word poetry?  SING a response?  I could set up a menu of choices and have students choose.  Maybe choices could include:
1. SoundCloud response
2. Blog post similar to It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
3. Response letter on Google Drive
4. Written Book Review - maybe even submit it for a magazine such as Storyworks or Scope
5. Short book talk
6. Animoto book trailer
7. Some kind of artistic response like Paul Hankins's remix collages
8. An infographic like Margaret showed us in her post today?
9.. Some other idea
     Now, the issue is still grading if this is once a week.  How do I manage that?  Could it be a completion grade?  Could they self/peer evaluate? Is once a week too much?  Monthly too little?  Should they have a certain number per month so that they can response whenever they're done with an independent book?
     I would love to hear what you do in your classrooms and how you use technology for reading responses!


  1. Your ideas are great! I think your students would love them. It will be difficult to set up a rubric that would include all choices, but I believe it could be done. Perhaps a rotating schedule so you are not overwhelmed. The students can do a self-eval using the rubric, too. My rubric is very general but I'd like to toy with the idea of adding in some specific skills. This week I asked them to contemplate the title. Was it symbolic? Why do you think the author chose that title? I still cannot fathom having 90 students in a day. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

  2. Here is another idea- they could do a video blog of a book response? You could have each of them upload a video they shot- on their family ipad, parent's phone, laptop, etc... and they could post it to a shared video site maybe? I know Shutterfly will allow the posting of videos... and the site is "private" for member's only to view. Now, that would mean that they could see each other's book responses... but, hey, maybe that would be a neat way to cut down on having them view them for a week in class??? You could assign them to watch a book response every few weeks or so??