Limiting to Reading Levels

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2014

    What are your feelings on limiting a child's book choices to their ideal reading levels? That has been a big thing for us this year and I understand what they are trying to do, but I think it's detrimental to the whole making kids enjoy reading thing. For example, when my kids go to the library, they know what their reading levels are but have all these other choices that interest them-sharks, monster trucks, kittens. My librarian always gets on me that my kids don't know how to choose books-I actually think they know how, but just find others that call to them more. I actually love when I do a lesson on George Washington and they come back all excited they found a book about him, or we do an author study on Eric Carle and they check out a book by him.

    On another note, I read YA all the time which is obviously below my reading level. I enjoy it. I don't think it hurts to read things for interest sometimes rather than just for knowledge.

    Is it stressed on your campuses? How do you feel about it?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2014

    I will never take a book from a child because it's too hard. Ever. I will make sure they understand what makes a "just right" book. I will council them on what might be a better book for them at the moment. I will make sure they know the things they'd need to do to access a "too hard" book.

    But if a kid is bound and determined to tackle a book, and is willing to put in the work to make it happen, then I'd be a pretty lousy teacher if I got in their way.

    Our reading teacher doesn't agree with my philosophy, but she respects me enough as a professional not to interfere.
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    What if the kids is not really able to put in the work, and repeatedly fails to understand the books he is reading? At some point do you step in or do you let him continue reading books he can't really understand, but really wants to "read".?
     
  5. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Oct 18, 2014

    I am thrilled to work for an administrator who is adamantly against this practice, since it's something that never sat well with me.

    I'm in a unique position this year because I'm at a charter that just added 4th and 5th grades this year. Because of this, my 5th graders are from all different schools. We sat down and had an honest conversation at the beginning of the year about what they thought about AR (which is used in the district most of them came from), and being limited to certain levels. The overwhelming response was that they hated AR. Interestingly, my higher readers hated it the most. In the first weeks of the year, one of my girls read Rules and loved it. If you're not familiar with it, it's a book about a girl with an autistic brother. It's fabulous. It's also a 3.9 AR level (but I would argue higher than 3rd grade maturity level). This student actually hadn't been allowed to read it the year before because her reading level was too high and it was "beneath her." Well, I enjoyed Rules as an adult, and my reading level is a lot higher than 3.9!! Other students expressed frustration with wanting to try harder books or read easier books and not being allowed to. I have had more than one parent approach me and thank me for getting their kid so excited about reading. I am not a miracle worker; I work at a school that stresses the enjoyment of reading.

    I think that teaching kids to choose just right books is very important. I individually conference with kids to make sure they are understanding the books they pick, and that they're not spending too much time camping out with books that are very easy for them. But I wouldn't want to be limited to certain levels, and my kids don't want that either. For example, I loved the Divergent series - super fun read! Fourth grade reading level. (NOT fourth grade maturity level!)

    I'm with you - I *love* when the kids get excited about something - George Washington, insects, whatever - and start getting books from the library about it. Isn't that what we do as adults? I think even very young children's reading habits can mirror our own in that way. (I used to teach 1st, so I've seen that too.)

    I don't know, I get why people get hung up on levels, but it doesn't fit with my personal philosophy at all. I've seen the kids in my class this year absolutely explode with a love for reading, and for many of them, it's because they're out from under the restriction of levels.
     
  6. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Oct 18, 2014

    We require one book on level and one book student choice. But right now I am hot with our librarian because she is only allowing my kids to check out books from one shelf. She says they are out of control. I teach transitional first with 13 boys and four girls....of course they are out of control. That is why they are in my class. I think a library should be a warm welcoming place without an adult being so protective of the books that the children can't touch them, I think that telling a child a book is too hard is harmful to their education.
     
  7. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Oct 18, 2014

    This is a really valid question. My school uses a reading workshop model, so a conversation like this would happen in a one on one conference with the student. I teach 5th, so it would look a lot different than in primary, but I would have a discussion about the book, whether the student was understanding the book, and whether it's a good idea to continue the book. I had this happen with a couple of students this year - they self-monitored and discontinued reading books because they were too hard. They were able to articulate to me why they were too hard (it was mostly vocabulary), which was useful for me to understand them as readers and to know what they need to work on. When this happens, I might help guide them towards a similar book (genre, theme, or whatever) that's more appropriate for their ability. I am not sure how it would work in the primary grades, but my fifth graders really can self-select if they are guided in the process.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Oct 18, 2014

    I am against limiting kids to their reading levels.

    I also like reading young adult books. I think that what matters most is that the book is something the person wants to read.
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Oct 18, 2014

    When we say outside their reading levels we are refferring to something like AR reading that assigns them a level right?

    I consider any book they can understand "their reading level", even when AR says it might be to hard.

    I will not let students choose simple books just for points in AR, and I will step in if I see a student failing to understand books at a given level, even if the student "really" wants to continue to read them.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If I ever run into that situation, I'll worry about it then. In my experience, kids are able to recognize that a book is too hard, and if not, flat-out showing them why it's too hard is enough to dissuade them. From my experience, kids are more likely to go the "too easy" route than the "too hard" route, anyway. Because of that, I do always tell the kids they are allowed to keep two books at their desk. Their independent reading book has to be a "just right" book, and their fun reading book can be any book of their choice. If a kid makes a bad choice of an independent reading book, I'll tell them to either make it their silent reading book, or to find a just right book.
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I ask because I see this situation a lot. I have several students every year who are struggling readers, but want to read the popular series of the moment.
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Oct 18, 2014

    Because every school does things differently, it is hard to give an absolute answer.

    I believe that kids should be reading books that are on their level. They should also have additional books they read for pleasure that are free choice.

    Enjoying reading is a great goal, but being a proficient reader is more important. So, if a student was to always choose books well below their reading level such that they weren't gaining improved vocabulary or reading skills or well above their reading level such that it was too hard to comprehend thus contributing to bad habits of guessing instead of understanding or adding outside knowledge to make up the story instead of understanding what is written, it can cause problems in reading growth as well.

    So, for school related reading I believe students should be reading at grade level books, but they should also have access from the library to other level books for pleasure reading.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2014

    In my classroom for reading workshop, I definitely want my kids reading at the level at which I assess them...there are other times during the day when they can grab a browse book or free reading of their choice at any level. (snack time, when others are finishing up, indoor recess during inclement weather, arrival time in morning before instruction begins, etc) ..I don't really care what they choose in the school library or read at home as long as they are reading. My kids happen to LOVE Piggy and Elephant books even though they are way below their reading level. THey love checking them out at library and taking to read to our K buddies....but for dedicated reading time, reading work and workshop times, kids should be reading at their level.
     
  14. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2014

    czacza-yes, they do read with me every week on their reading level for guided reading. I guess that's part of the reason I feel like they should be allowed to read what they want the rest of the time! ;)

    mrachelle-I think it's a great idea to let them have 2 choices-one on their level and one for fun.
     
  15. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2014

    I have "just right" reading time when they read on their level and "look book" time when they can read any book and look at the pictures to tell the story. They spend 95% of their reading time in just right reading time! but I like giving them access to any book they like. We do not limit kids in the library, those books are free choice and I consider them to be parent read books.
     
  16. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 18, 2014

    I completely agree with you. :thumb::thumb:
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I guess I'm in the minority, but I feel pretty strongly that kids should not be spending time in class "reading" books that are not at their level. I'm all for kids checking out whatever they want at the library, but those books are for home use only, and if they want to just look at the pictures or have it read to them that's fine. When kids read in class, I expect it to be on their level. I seem to have the opposite experience of many people here- my struggling readers are choosing books that are WAY too hard for them 95% of the time, and I've seen this in all 3 schools I've worked in. I've honestly never really seen a better reader choosing an "easy" book- even when I taught gen ed. My higher kids were always really good at picking out books on their level, but my lowest who were barely able to read early level books were picking out huge chapter books. Then during independent reading time, at best they are staring at the book and flipping the pages. This is not allowing them to "enjoy" reading- because they are not reading! I just had an intermediate teacher complaining to me that when she introduced books for a project, she had stated that one particular book was very difficult and would be for readers that were really ready for a challenge. 5 out of the 6 sped kids in the class chose that book. They do this ALL of the time. We do daily 5 at my school and I see my sped kids with books way above their level all the time during independent reading time- I wish more gen ed teachers would not allow them to choose those books. I can understand that the kid might not feel great about being told that a book is too hard, but with daily 5 they spend a significant amount of time in independent reading and I hate that this is just wasted time for them when they have a book they can't really read. Our school psych was actually just asking me about this, since she had noticed the same thing with many of our caseload students. She was pretty floored when I explained that many teachers don't believe in limiting kids when they pick out books, even if it's a book they can't read.
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Nope, your not the only one Waterfall, I have had similar experiences and tend to agree with you.
     
  19. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2014

    Normally I don't but this week, our librarian laid out Goosebumps for my second graders! Don;t know what she was thinking! ALL kids wanted to choose a Goosebumps book but not all can read one so I def pulled the reins on book choice..

    I do have kids have lots of book choices in their desks--we have decodable readers, leveled books, books from my library, a book from the school library...they are not ever allowed to tell me they have nothing to read!
     
  20. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    First off, I am NOT a fan of Accelerated Reader. I can list my reasons if anyone wants to know.

    Secondly, I believe that kids should be reading "just right" books during guided reading or RtI.

    I should add, however, that I see no reason why they can't "dip down" and read a book below their level during independent reading time.

    I disagree with them reading books that are above their level, though. In the past, I've had struggling readers who insisted on reading the popular series that their peers were enjoying. Unfortunately, though, the lower students spent so much time trying to decode the words that they had no clue what they were reading (lack of comprehension was a huge concern for me).
     
  21. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    As a Reading Specialist I want my kids reading books that they can comprehend. I also want them reading books that are easy for them, what a wonderful way to work on fluency. I also want to challenge them, so I want them reading books that may be above their level. Those books may need to be read with a stronger reader, so that the student can comprehend the text.

    I also tell parents that they need to hear good reading, that there needs to be a balance.

    If a student is always picking a book that is too easy or just right, they will not increase their vocabulary.
     
  22. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I think that we have to determine what makes a book just right. A child can decode an entire page correctly and not comprehend much of it at all. A child can struggle to comprehend many words on the page but actually know the meaning of the words if they were able to sound out the word.

    I think the issue really goes beyond "just right" as the term is typically used. We really should tailor many of the books to the needs of the student. For pleasure they can try whatever they like.

    I do agree some books need to push their ability a bit, but what that means depends on the student. A just right book should be one where the child can decode most of it and keep comprehension at the same time.

    I think that is part of the difficulty when trying to find books for students. "Just right" means different things for different students.
     
  23. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Kids should be reading at their level, BUT they should be allowed to enjoy other books too! I have kids who can´t actually really read right now. We are working on phonics books, and sight word books, but they are interested in real books too. I never tell a child no, because I think the whole engaging and enjoying books will help them to later love reading.
     
  24. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    It's pretty heavily stressed but I definitely make wiggle room in my classroom. I want my kids to love reading and I know limiting them to one or two bins to pick books isn't going to grow a love for reading. I make sure if they take one book pretty far above or below their level that their other books are closer to their level. Or if it's really hard I recommend they read it at home with a friend. Or I tell them it won't count for a reading response (short book report kids have to write when they finish reading a book.) Or sometimes if it's something that is just above their level I'll say, "when you get to level R you can read that." This gives them a bit of motivation to keep practicing their reading. I'm pretty flexible. If a kid is DYING to read something I'm not going to deny them a book.
     
  25. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    As long as they are scoring 85-100% on AR tests, I don't really care what they are reading. I just want them to read!
     
  26. MelissainGA

    MelissainGA Groupie

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    I don't limit them in their choices in what they read. My goal is to get them to read. I will discuss with them the fact they need to pick books for AR within their "approved range". I told them if it's just an easy book to try and get points that I will have it removed, but after they reach their goal they can read whatever they want to. It works with my class really well this year. I only had 3 not make their goal for the first nine weeks.
     

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