Anyone else NOT have their library leveled?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Jun 13, 2013

    I wish I had the time! I didn't level my library (or even organize it at ALL this year) because it was my first year in 2nd and I honestly didn't have many books until November.

    This year I am teaching summer school in July and have a 5-day paid (yay) training for math in August, so I really don't want to spend my "summer" leveling books.

    Am I doing "damage" to my kids by not having the books organized whatsoever? I literally have them tossed in bins on the shelves.
     
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  3. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jun 13, 2013

    My library is not levelled, but it is organized by genre/author. I figure that if someone is interested in dinosaurs for example, they should be able to go to that bucket and find a book they can read. If they are limited to certain levelled bins, they might not find anything they actually want to read.
     
  4. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Each year I consider categorizing my books by levels, but I feel like that might limit the children's enjoyment. Of course I want to encourage them to read challenging text that increases their comprehension and decoding skills, but at the same time, I feel from personal experience one of the best ways to get a child to read is to let them have freedom to choose what they want. At least that's what worked for my brother and I.

    Plus, I teach my students about selecting "just right" books and during our 20 - 30 minute guided reading group sessions, they read teacher selected texts at their reading level, then spend another 20 - 30 minutes with the text via cut-up sentences and comprehension questions.

    I feel like if they're getting an hour a day with levelled readers, if they want to read things below or above their level during their limited free time, that it's okay.
     
  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jun 13, 2013

    There are arguments on both sides, with some saying that forcing kids to chose books by level reduces kids' interest in reading and possibly lowers their motivation by forcing them to chose lower-levels. Consider the student who might want to chose a book 2 levels above their zone but really wants to read the book and is motivated to look up vocab, ask questions, self-monitor, etc. If your kids have learned how to self-select and be self-aware of when a book may be too challenging, I think it makes sense to organize by topic or genre.

    On the other hand, with younger grades and wildly discrepant reading levels, with kids who may not have as much skill with self-selection, I think reading levels can be helpful to guide kids toward books which can be most helpful.

    I'm not aware of any research which specifically examines use of a leveling system in a library for self-selected independent reading. The closest body of research I can think of would be research examining direct instruction reading programs that use leveled and decodable texts, and the general body of research/theory about teaching on a child's instructional level or within their zone of proximal development. Certainly all of this research, theory, and common sense suggests that if a child can't self-select and ends up with a book that s/he simply can't read, that's a problem. I've encountered kids in this category, who pick books (for example) with dinosaurs because the pictures are great, but can't read any of the words. Or, they're so used to not being able to read that they just pick any book and read what they can.

    My approach has been to level all books, give kids a range of levels as a general guideline, but allow kids to chose books higher than that zone if they can demonstrate that they can read it. You could even give a checklist of 5-10 things to do to make sure the book is readable for them. You could then spot check a passage from the book by asking them to read aloud, and seeing what they do if they come to unknown words/concepts.
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jun 13, 2013

    I did not level my classroom library.
     
  7. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Jun 13, 2013

    I used to have my library leveled, but I don't do that any more.
     
  8. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Mine are really leveled for my benefit and not the students. About 30% of my library is in leveled bins, the rest is organized by title/author/genre. (But the levels are all inside the books.) The organization helps me know where all the books are and guide kids to bins that are appropriate to their level and their interests. I do encourage them to read books higher than their level and allow them to take some lower than their level if it's a series or genre they really enjoy. It's not like "You're a P, you pick the P books."
     
  9. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Mine is not leveled either. Honestly, my library is more for them to read for fun-they read on their levels with me for guided reading so I know they are getting that experience as well. I often put books that I use for lessons in class in there among others that I know have characters they love.
     
  10. OhThePlaces

    OhThePlaces Cohort

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    Jun 13, 2013

    This exactly!
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jun 13, 2013

    That's how mine was this year. It was organized by genre and mostly used for when kids were finished with assignments early. If we were doing some type of "silent reading time" I would make sure the book was something they could read.
     
  12. alioxenfree

    alioxenfree Rookie

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Leveled books but not organized according to levels

    I think it's important for the books to be organized, just to make it easier for students to locate the books they want to read. How it's done depends on a lot of factors, which have been mentioned by the other posters.

    A big part of our reading program is based on the books my students choose to read, so I prefer to have a leveled library. I have had some books leveled for years already (never have time to do them all). I'm in the process of leveling a lot of them this summer. I don't keep them in leveled bins though. They are still categorized by genre, topic, author, etc. with books with different levels in the same bin. My students and I discuss different ways of choosing books, with levels being one factor. The important thing is that they understand what they read and that they are not choosing books that are too easy.
     
  13. EiffelTower

    EiffelTower Comrade

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    Jun 14, 2013

    At the start of the year, I teach my students how to choose a good fit, I PICK (part of Daily 5) book. My library is organized by genre/interests and not by reading level. I figure that when they go to the library or a bookstore, they wouldn't have books leveled, so they must be able to select a book and decide if they are able to read/comprehend the book.
     
  14. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Jun 25, 2013

    ditto. I moved grade levels several times and now I'm in a loop between two grades. I quit leveling my books and allow students to self select from my library. I actually have two libraries so that the second year the kids are with me there will be fresh books to choose from.

    I also assign literature circle books and groups. Those books are from the school resource library and are leveled. I generated a lot of lessons based on those 30 or so books and I'm able to rotate groups through those novels during my loop pretty easily now.
     
  15. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jun 25, 2013

    Mine used to be leveled based on AR. I changed it to genres last year and love it.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Jun 25, 2013

    I did not have my library leveled this year; it was organized by genres/ authors/ series (Clifford, etc). I am intending to level it for next year because of these exact concerns EdEd raised. I have also thought of leveling a portion. I use book boxes that kids read every day during read to self (I do modified Daily 5). The kids have 5 books all week. They also take a book home every night. I really want the books that go home to be on their level, as well as at least 2 or 3 of the books in their book boxes. This year, I've seen way too many lower kids just looking at pictures because they choose hard books that they can't read, and way too many higher kids choosing books far below what they are capable of. I realize these things have been taught, and I could have been better at that, but I'm not convinced that my first graders can reliably choose good fit books independently. I'm interested to read this thread because this is a debate going on in my mind right now for next year.
     
  17. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Jun 25, 2013

    A leveled library is integral to my literacy instruction. I have a label on the inside cover with the reading level, but they are organized in baskets by series, famous authors and genres. Students meet with me at the beginning of the year to figure out their reading level, and then we meet weekly to discuss what their reading goals are and what books they are choosing to meet those goals. They can read any series, author or genre they want, at any level, but they have to justify it. They are welcome to go below their level to have fun with a title, or go above their level to challenge themselves, but I do want to see some progress when we do running records each month. I think meta-cognitive book choices are crucial, and the more information a student has about a book (plot line AND reading level), the more sucessful they will be in their reading journey.

    It also helps me guide them in their reading choices-there is no way I'd be able to remember what level all my books are at. If I see that a student is consistently picking books below their level, I can figure out why. Maybe they are intimidated by more complex text, I don't have enough books in a topic they are interested in, they want to read what a lower level friend is reading, they are afraid to try new titles, etc. Same if they are choosing significantly higher than their reading level. Maybe they are embarrassed by their level, or are interested in more mature topics, or think they will improve faster if they jump levels. It gives me a great place to start in our 1:1 meetings.
     
  18. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Jun 25, 2013

    I have some leveled portions of my library and the rest is organized based on subjects. I also train the children on just right books and assist if the children are not able to select for themselves.
     
  19. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Jun 25, 2013

    I have thought of doing a set up like this, but how do you decide which books are leveled and which are organized by genre? I'd thought of leveling my easy reader type books and not the big picture books (nonfiction included)...or something...?
     
  20. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Jun 26, 2013

    I've done it all...leveling, genres, etc.

    If you are going to organize it I think genres is the way to go. Kids need to learn how to pick appropriate books and not be locked into a specific level.

    Enjoy your summer!
     
  21. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jun 26, 2013

    I changed my library to genres after reading The Book Whisperer. It really made me take a step back and reevaluate my reading program.
     

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