Disclosure: I received a free subscription to Reading Portfolio for my family. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are honest, and I was not required to write a positive review.
Independent Reading in Our Homeschool
My older daughter spends a lot of time reading. Almost every day, I can record “independent reading” beside her name in my lesson plans. She usually has several books going at once, and I work to keep her accountable for what she’s reading. As she enters her junior high and high school years, it’s especially important to me that she read books that will expand her exposure to literature and give her a range of genres, authors, and themes to draw from in her writing and thinking. To encourage this, I work to hold her accountable for her reading choices.
Accountability for Independent Reading
Some ways I have found to hold my daughter accountable for both her reading and the titles she chooses are:
Read along with her. As my daughter begins tackling titles with more mature themes, I have started reading the book right along with her. We don’t always read the same chapter at the same time, but reading simultaneously refreshes my memory of details I may have forgotten and gives me the opportunity to discuss things with her that she might find confusing or disturbing.
Discuss books. Whether I’m reading along with her or not, my daughter and I have a long history of discussing books we’re reading. She often follows me around while I do household chores, chattering about the book she’s reading. I ask questions, trying to tease out the themes and understand the storyline (and checking her comprehension). She likes to read fantasy, which is not my favorite genre, so I thoroughly test her understanding of the text (and her patience, I’m sure) as I try to comprehend the new world she has landed in. She asks about the books I’m reading too, and we discuss them in the same way. Sometimes I tell her something that sparks her interest, and she adds a book to her “to read” list. Usually the new title is one that she probably wouldn’t have picked up on her own, but the discussion leads her to explore new titles.
Create a reading portfolio. I recently discovered a tool called Reading Portfolio that helps me keep track of what my daughter reads and holds her accountable for comprehension and critical thinking about the text. As she has gotten older, her reading curriculum takes only a semester to complete instead of two, and she spends a lot of time doing independent reading. With Reading Portfolio, I can assign her an amount of points to earn for each semester (more for the semester with no reading coursework, and fewer for the semester that she’s completing her class).
Reading Portfolio’s list of books includes a lot of books that she normally wouldn’t choose for herself, so that certainly helps me to encourage her to expand her choices. The questions are not impossibly difficult but make sure that you’ve read the text. (I took a test on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe myself, and I was surprised that I had to think about some of the answers, even after having read the book several times!) Best of all . . .
- the quizzes are already written,
- quizzes are automatically scored,
- scores are recorded and credited to my daughter’s portfolio immediately with no extra work on my part.
When my daughter is ready to apply for college, she will have an extensive reading portfolio to present in her college applications.
- The cost for a one-year subscription is $15.95.
- A ten-year subscription is just $24.95.
- The site is open for students 13 years and older, so it’s perfect for junior high and high school students.
- The more books they read and quizzes they pass, the higher their Reading Portfolio score will be. Higher scores will show colleges that students are well-read and may help with the application process.
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