Wonderful colleague posts this question to the universe:
Calling ALL opinions: students are reading below grade level (anywhere from 5 to 1 year behind) and I want to do a book study to meet some CORE standards. Can I use one that isn’t at grade level? Or is that just making it too easy? Is it OK to use any book as long as it is higher than their current level of performance? Weigh in…and not just teachers!
My quick response:I have a lot to say about this, but Lucy Calkins said it well: “I want to know when I am about to ski down the black diamond slope.” In other words, make the reading levels AND the student’s current reading abilities as transparent as possible, with the key ingredient: Once they know, teach the hell out of how they can improve. I have “let go” so much regarding levels as far as what they “should” be reading – I encourage ANY kind of reading–comic books, picture books, fairy tales, graphic novels, cereal boxes, video game quest logs, you name it. In fact, on the MSP there is a place for “functional” reading–which I agree with. Being able to read a functional document means a functional adult (or a greatly improved chance). I stress, stress, stress to my students if you don’t understand it and can’t talk about it, you’re not “reading” –you’re faking it. So, encourage them if they want to read something higher than their “level” but let them know they are going to have to approach it a bit differently. And, they can get deep meaning out of any narrative or information they find interesting and meaningful to them.
So, here’s what I’m thinking: In order to get my own head on straight for this upcoming, topsy-turvy year, this week I will do a series all about reading, and my reflections on its process, purpose, and perpetuating the pursuit.
I would love any guest bloggers to engage with their philosophies, strategies, and reflections on this as well — what have you tried that worked with the majority of your students, and what have you tried that worked with the minority of your students?
Send me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org