By Elizabeth Woodrum
As a language arts teacher in the digital age, it can be a challenge to keep students interested. Juggling technology and learning requires a great balancing act.
I discovered Whooo’s Reading during last school year. My students had been using a Google Doc through Google Classroom as a reading log—it wasn’t the best method, but it got the job done.
After finding Whooo’s reading, I shared it with my students, and asked if they’d be interested in changing our reading log. The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”
After using Whooo’s reading for the remainder of the year, I’ve decided that there are five main reasons that I will continue to use it in my classroom this year.
1. Student Interest
“Students are ridiculously excited about earning coins and being able to customize their owl avatars.”
Students are ridiculously excited about earning coins and being able to customize their owl avatars. I had been a little nervous that my sixth-graders would think they were too old for such things. But, that was not the case. In fact, I often had to make them log off to start class in the mornings. Since I graded their responses each night, they were always anxious to see how many coins they had earned each morning.
The social aspect of Whooo’s Reading also keeps them interested. They enjoy leaving comments and liking other students’ responses and activity, all of which earns them coins. They can also see what their friends are reading and find new books for themselves in a safe, social environment.
2. Improved Performance
“After a short settling in period, I found that my students’ responses were often of a higher quality than when they simply answered a question and got a grade. The coins motivate them to perform better.”
While my students dutifully answered questions on their previous reading log, I found that they put more effort into their responses on Whooo’s Reading. When students submit responses, they automatically receive coins. At first, they were quick to submit in order to receive those coins. But, they learned they needed to meet my expectations to get the higher score points. The higher the score point I assigned, the more coins they received.
After a short settling in period, I found that my students’ responses were often of a higher quality than when they simply answered a question and got a grade. The coins motivate them to perform better.
“I found that I mostly used my own questions, but did include a few of the preloaded questions.”
I have tried both the free and paid versions and discovered that, depending on your membership (free or paid), you can customize different things. With a free membership, you can add your own questions. You can also choose to use the preloaded questions, or turn off the ones you don’t want.
If you have a paid membership, you can choose between different rubrics instead of only being able to use the standard number scale that comes with the free membership. You can also customize your directions. I found that I mostly used my own questions, but did include a few of the preloaded questions.
4. Ease of Grading
“When I used paper logs, I checked for completion each day, but graded them and wrote comments over the weekend. Now, students can see my feedback daily, because I can spend a short time checking them each night.”
I had been relieved to stop collecting paper logs when I replaced then with Google Docs last year. However, while easier, opening each student’s Google Doc through Google Classroom on a nightly basis, typing comments, and assigning a score became tedious.
The process is very similar on Whooo’s Reading, with one difference that made it so much easier: when a teacher opens her turn-in tray, she can see a list of all student activity. A new feature that I’m excited to get to use this year is a filter option. You can choose to see only answers and responses that need grading, or you can also view when students have added books or other updates.
The streamlined list of responses makes it much quicker to go through and score each student. I no longer had to open separate documents for each of my seventy-five students. It was certainly faster to grade, and I could give more timely feedback than with paper reading logs.
When I used paper logs, I checked for completion each day, but graded them and wrote comments over the weekend. Now, students can see my feedback daily, because I can spend a short time checking them each night.
“Sometimes, I just needed a quick check to see who had completed their logs at home and who needed to complete them in the morning, which I could do by running a quick report to see who had recorded an answer the previous night.”
I enjoyed the graphs of data that are available. Sometimes, I just needed a quick check to see who had completed their logs at home and who needed to complete them in the morning, which I could do by running a quick report to see who had recorded an answer the previous night. Then I could remind those students who don’t have Internet at home to complete their reading log during class time.
There’s also other information, such as average scores and the number of books, minutes and responses recorded. You can view the data for the class as a whole or by individual student.
Only paid subscribers can see the Lexile level, or other reading level measure, for individual students. If you’re not a paying member, you can only see a class average. The data is easy to sort and can be very helpful.
I’m glad I discovered Whooo’s Reading and will be able to start this year with the program. I think it will hold my students’ interest and keep them reading all year long.