Against leveling classroom library

Discussion in 'General Education' started by shouts, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    Jun 12, 2015

    Everything I've read leads me to believe we level books for instructional purposes. We should teach students how to choose an appropriate book, not tell them to pick a level N book. Levels won't apply to more than 60 percent of all children's books! And how will students use their level when searching for books at the library or bookstore?

    Anyone have any articles/research on either side of this? I need some evidence.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jun 12, 2015

    Nothing to show for you, but I don't level my library. I find my kids are very good at figuring out the books that are appropriate for them.
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    That's also not even mentioning the fact that, depending on which leveling system you use, you can end up with absurdities such as "Night" by Elie Wiesel being at a lower level than Peter Pan or The Wind in the Willows.
     
  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Jun 12, 2015

    I do, but for a few reasons:

    1.) As a new teacher, I started off with very few books, and so grouping by category or author, etc..., just wasn't that realistic given how few there were. Stacking them like you find at a library (as opposed to in bins) makes it look a lot fuller :)
    2.) I like to group the books by genre first, and then after that, I want another piece of organization...since I don't have enough books (I do have a decent amount now) to do it by author or title, level provides another option.
    3.) While I want my kids to be able to find books appropriate for them, I find that this provides a good starting point, especially given that our grade level uses AR. That being said, I never tell them they *can't* read higher/lower...I've had kids at a 3rd grade reading level read books that are "5.4", and could comprehended it well.

    I can definitely see the arguments against as well though and may switch to that at some point! We talk plenty about how to choose the right book, and I encourage them to consider all books (and just ask them to check in with me if it's significantly higher/lower)
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jun 12, 2015

    I do level my books. I am still (kind of) opposed to it, because I don't want to limit readers, but here's why I like it:

    - Kids can find a "right fit" book easier. I have a huge range of lexile levels in my class and library - from 300L to 1200L.

    - I use levels more as a recommended guideline than something they are required to use. But it helps kids take ownership for what they're reading. If they're testing into a 1100L range, but are reading 600L books, their score is likely going to drop the next time they test. It's not something they, or I, want to see.

    - For my lower level readers, it can be discouraging for them to keep picking up book after book, only to find out they're too difficult. Leveling helps them feel like they have more choices.

    I would really love to not worry about lexile levels, because if a 9 year old who tests as an above-level reader wants read Percy Jackson (740L, which is lower 4th grade level), I don't want to stop them. However, the high level kids will drop down on standardized tests, which is frustrating for all of us.
     
  7. shouts

    shouts Companion

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  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jun 12, 2015

    I don't remember which book I read it in, but I know that Fountas & Pinnell recommend against leveling books for children. They recommend teachers know and use leveled books, but they do not recommend having children choose books based on level.

    I'm sure you can find something if you look into their materials or website.
     
  9. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    That's EXACTLY what I'm looking for! I want material to show this trainer - I think I had it bookmarked before they "fixed" my computer, but I can't find it!
     
  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I don't have the book with me right now, but I THINK I might have read it most recently in the introduction to The Continuum of Literacy Learning book. I'm sure it's in some of their other books as well... but I haven't picked any of the others up recently, and I remember reading this not too long ago.
     
  11. shouts

    shouts Companion

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    Found a good quote from them:

    Educators have sometimes made
    the mistake of thinking that guided
    reading is the reading program or
    that all of the books students read
    should be leveled. We have argued
    against the overuse of levels. We
    have never*recommended that the
    school library or classroom libraries
    be leveled*or that levels be reported to
    parents.
    We want students to learn to select
    books the way experienced readers
    do—according to their own interests,
    by trying a bit of the book, by noticing
    the topic or the author. Teachers can
    help students learn how to choose
    books that are right for them to read
    independently. This is a life skill. The
    text gradient and leveled books are
    a teacher’s tool, not a child’s label,
    and should be deemphasized in the
    classroom. Levels are for books, not
    children.

    From:
    http://www.heinemann.com/fountasand...spinnell_revdreadingteacherarticle12_2012.pdf
     
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  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    That's EXACTLY what I remember reading. Glad you found it. :)
     
  13. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    This is really interesting. Thanks for posting.

    As a kid, I was a very high level reader. Sometimes I'd read very adult books, and then sometimes, even as a sixth grader, I enjoyed taking a break and reading books from the "Magic Tree House" series. They were good! Even as an adult, I sometimes read books that are around a 700L, just for fun. Good books can be easy or hard. But it seems like standards and tests care less and less about helping children find "good books". While I am passionate about getting kids to love to read, my primary job right now is test prep. Until the US political and school climate changes, I'm afraid it will stay that way. Yes, it feels wrong, but it's what's expected, at least in my area.

    I do like Lexile a lot better than DRA. I hated DRA with a fiery passion.
     
  14. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I've sorted mine by genre and then within each genre I've sorted into categories (for example I have 10 baskets of Fantasy books and one of those has Fantasy books about animals. One has funny Fantasy books, etc.) I got the idea from the Book Whisperer. I like that once they find a book they like they have others in the basket that are similar. It's worked well to help reluctant readers find their niche.
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    To answer your original question...

    From "A Guide to Reading Workshop" by Lucy Calkins. While she doesn't cite specific evidence right here, her methods are well respected.

    http://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/e03744/gsp_uosr35_samppage.pdf
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jun 13, 2015

    I just keep my leveled books for certain group reading. Other than that my books are a free-for-all. I have had students that can barely read who love flipping through the fancy high-level non-fiction books with their awesome photos.
     
  17. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I sort just like Christy did (but didn't use baskets because I had older groups) and also had lots of nonfiction. I always had over 1000 books in my library and at least a 3-year span in both ages and reading levels in my classes. It worked great to have lots of choices. Whenever I brought in new books (from thrift stores or Scholastic freebies), I introduced them to the class after morning meeting. It always got the interest up, as did reading aloud. As a tutor, now, one of the things I miss the most is my class library. Sigh.
     
  18. 4815162342

    4815162342 Companion

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    Jun 13, 2015

    My library was by genre/topic (mostly so I could find books quickly and easily for lessons), but each student had a book bag with more on level books that we switched out often. When students had free library time, they could read whatever level they wanted as long as they put the books back in the correct bin.
    I had kindergarten, for whatever thats worth.
     

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