Danielle (comment #45),
I will try to answer all of your questions.
First, you asked what the IDR tasks are. On most days the IDR is a short reading response task directly related to the mini-lesson. Students do their IDR task on an IDR Response Sheet (referred to in the reader's notebook post), or they may use the Talking Back to Books handout (referred to in post) to write their thinking on sticky notes.
For example, my students study the main characters in the texts they are reading in great depth in our fiction genre study. On the day that I teach a lesson about inferring character traits based on a character's actions, my readers' IDR task that day is to find an important action in their story and then write on a sticky note a character trait that can be inferred from that specific action.
I am careful to make sure that the IDR task is not a lengthy one everyday. I want my students engaged in their texts as much as possible and do not want to make my tasks so long that they do not spend time truly reading.
You were also concerned about your students' tendency to record a bunch of books but not be able to discuss them. While there are certainly students who will record books in their book log that they did not truly "read," I try to meet with my readers in as many different situations as possible so that no reader can slip through the cracks. Conferring is only one way to discuss with students the books that they are reading. Guided reading, book clubs, and strategy groups are also occurring regularly in my classroom. Since I meet with my readers while they are reading both their self-selected texts and also while they are reading teacher-chosen books in guided reading groups, I find that it becomes very clear which student are truly comprehending the texts and which students are "pretending to read." It is also important that students are reading books at their "just right" level. I find that it is common for students to be unable to comfortably discuss a book when they are reading a book that is too challenging for them. I have spent a great deal of time leveling my classroom library so that it is easier for me to make sure my students are in "just right" texts. You can read more about "just right" texts and how I use my classroom library to empower my students as readers in my classroom library post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2009/10/classlibrary.html
Hopefully my suggestions are helpful!
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