Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reading Logs | BiblioNasium Website

Do you do reading logs?

I did them for about two years and then found it to be terribly ineffective for both students and myself as the teacher.  Maybe it was the way I did them, maybe it was because I, myself, didn't see a lot of value in them, or maybe it just plain wasn't working.  I gave up.  My students kept reading.  Those that would have logged tons of minutes still read all the time.  Those that would have logged nothing, still read minimally.  Those that lied to me about it still lied to me about it.

When I did a weekly reading log, I felt like students felt like they had to lie on it in order to turn it in on time and get the "grade".  It was so frustrating.

So I have a love-hate with reading logs.

Then I moved schools and my new school does reading logs.  So I jumped back on the reading log train.  You know what?  I still don't like them.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.  How do I keep track of what they are reading while still keeping them motivated to read?

So in true Miss B fashion I set out to find some resources to back up my stance on reading logs, or completely discredit my idea that reading logs are ineffective.  I'm open to whatever.  Here's what I found...

Journal of  Education Research (Princeton University) 
Students without mandatory nightly reading actually enjoy reading more.  

Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 2005
Reading logs ARE EFFECTIVE when combined with ORAL SHARING.  Also, more effective with college students than middle school or high school students.  Go figure.  But I like the oral sharing part, and I'm going to start implementing that in my classroom.

Sacramento State
Reading program ideas and ways to keep it relevant.  Short and sweet but some good stuff here.

So basically, students don't get anything out of just writing down their minutes each week.  However, they DO get something out of sharing their reading experiences.  We already knew that...right??

In my push to get out of reading logs and into AUTHENTIC reading sharing (no book reports!), I discovered a new website to get students interacting with their reading.

BiblioNasium and why it's awesome
*all opinions are my own and no one is giving me anything because this website is free anyway.

BiblioNasium is a way for students to log minutes, create personal bookshelves, share recommendations, and talk about books... in a safe and school friendly environment.  I'd say the best website to compare it to is Shelfari.

Once your students all have profiles, they can choose an avatar and get started.  You can set up weekly challenges for them based on books read or minutes read (I go with minutes)- and they can log their minutes and see how close they are getting to the weekly goal.  When they log their minutes, they are also logging the book they are reading and how much is read.  At the end of the week or month, you can run a report that shows you all student reading for the selected time.  

That's... no paperwork!  Minutes are already added!  Goals are either met or not met and I can see it at a glance!  Waaahooooo!

Students then have the opportunity to write recommendations and recommend books to friends (other classmates).  These show up in your live newsfeed on the front page.  The newsfeed usually shows a post from BiblioNasium- it could be a book recommendation or an article about reading or just a picture and caption for reading fun.  There is typically a new BiblioNasium post every day or so.  It's not overkill.  You can choose to delete anything in your feed after you read it (yay!).  

When you log in, you see your news feed and this tool bar- 

When students log in they see their news feed and this tool bar-

Students can earn awards when they log in, make a recommendation, etc.  Depending on your settings, they can share recommendations (I keep it to my class only).  They can log their minutes and books, create their own bookshelf of books they have read or want to read, and interact with their classmates for reading purposes.  

A badge on the right will keep track of their books and minutes read since they started logging.

This means students are not just logging their reading, but they are interacting with it as well!  I love when students walk in the room saying things like "I recommended a book to you last night!".  

Sometimes I'll log in during class time just so we can see some of the book recommendations that our classmates have posted.  It's a great motivator.

I didn't discover this website until late in our first trimester, so I only made it an optional way of logging our reading.  Plus, my students still have to write a weekly response so the original reading log still gets sent home every day.  I hope to revamp this for next year to slowly wean the written reading log and migrate to this more applicable version.  Since it's optional this year, I still have a good chunk of kiddos who don't use it because their routine is still with the paper ones.  Hopefully next year we will be using it more in and out of the classroom.  

Teachers can sign up.  Parents can sign up.  Students can log in.  It's good stuff.  Check it out.

I can't just use BiblioNasium and pretend it isn't just an online reading log.  It is.  But it does jump start the authentic reading interaction that I'm looking for.  I'm hoping to do more to provide authentic conversations and oral sharing in my classroom regarding books (not in book report form!).  If you have ideas, I'd LOVE to hear them!  Let's start chatting...about books! 



  1. Hi! Not sure if you are checking comments on this post still but I'm curious if you have any updates regarding your use of Biblionasium? I promote it to our new teachers and was looking for some "real-life" teacher stories!

  2. Hi Kerri! I really do love Biblionasium. I've been using it for my higher level readers- I set them up on the website and we set weekly challenges. Then I try to check in each week and see how they are all doing. This way they can recommend books to each other at similar reading levels and keep each other motivated. :-)