Monday, January 2, 2017

A Child's Reading Level -- Part 1

Last October I read an article by Fountas and Pinnell.  It was one of those articles that made me want to shout YES YES YES as I read it.  By far, it was my favorite professional read from 2016 because of the authenticity and transparency.  All lead learners and teachers need to read the article titled: A Level is a Teacher's Tool, NOT a Child's Label

My friend, Stacey Riedmiller, from Literacy for Big Kids created this image based off the post:
That statement is powerful.  Levels are meant to be a tool for teachers to plan and refine instruction.  Every grade level has a goal readers must reach by the end of the school year.   Kindergarten students in my county must read a level D by May.  By assessing students three times a year and completing informal assessments such as running records, teachers can gauge where each student is performing and plan for instruction accordingly.   

How do I inform parents?
I Read with My Teacher Today -- sent home every 2 weeks per student.  There are various versions of this sheet for decoding and comprehension.  At this point in the school year most of my students are focusing on decoding with the exception of one reading group.  I like sending home this sheet because it helps illustrate to parents what specific skill their child will continue to work on.  
Purchase HERE (product not created by me)

When I return from winter break, we begin mid year testing for DIBELS and TRC (similar to F & P or DRA).  Although there can be pressure associated with the results of this assessment, keep in mind this is to inform you where each child is performing and specific skills to focus on in relation to comprehension, fluency, or accuracy.   There is so much more to know than the actual level the child is reading at.

Book Choice
As stated by Franki Sibberson, "Choice is choice.  Choice is not within a leveled basket or choice limited to a Lexile range."

Classroom libraries may look different depending on the grade level you teach and what your district or school requires.  I am required to have a leveled library since my county uses the Daily 5 structure.  Instead of placing all emphasis on choosing books from a leveled book bin, I model to students HOW to select  the right fit books, which is a lifelong skill.  Every week students pick 2 books from their bin in addition to 3 picture books from the books I provide.      

My goal as a classroom teacher is to model a love for reading.  As an adult if someone told you your book choice is limited to a specific bin, would you want to continue reading for pleasure?  Probably not.  In addition, I want to maintain a classroom community, not create competition within students or make students doubt themselves.  

My next post will be devoted towards planning instruction for your growing readers.

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