Saturday, August 6, 2016

Leveled Texts to Share with Families

Hello people!  How are you these days? Sorry it's been so long! But I'm back (for now at least) and I'm here with another Saturday Special! 

I was with teachers in Macomb IL this week! We were setting things straight about Guided Reading and laying the groundwork for a school-wide reading CULTURE at Lincoln School (yes, as in Land of Lincoln).  

One thing that we talked about was how to help parents know how to help students!  Telling parents that their child is reading at a Level T... is not helpful! How do you navigate that in the real world of reading? How do you find books on that level if you're not a teacher?  

So I have an idea for you!  Provide a book list!  Send home the page that goes with their level.  There are books to be read themselves and books to be read WITH someone at home.

You can get this for yourself... HERE!

You all know about Scholastic Book Wizard right? Add your own books to this list using that FREE site! Remember their Guided Reading level is NOT the level you share with parents... share their independent reading level with parents (a level below their GR level).  And of course- a CHILD is not a level- a book can be leveled and it is a tool to help children learn to read!


Enjoy your last days of summer... your students are waiting for you!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday Specials (Formerly Known as Freebie Friday)

Hello out there! I am going to try SO SO HARD this summer to bring back FRIDAY FREEBIES... but I know I work most every Friday. So, we'll try our first SATURDAY SPECIAL!

I worked with teachers in North Dakota this week and it reminded me of things I have been meaning to share... probably promising to share all up and down the coast in numerous presentations. OOPS!

So here it is.  Nothing fancy really, but that's how I roll.  Speaking of roll, it's called ROLL and RESPOND.  It would find a nice home in a Write about Reading or Work on Reading Work Station.

You'll need to buy (or find in your classroom) at least two of these:

Or, go to Dollar Tree and find the cheaper and just as good version: 

Then use this SATURDAY SPECIAL to put in each of the sections.


Label the center FICTION or INFORMATIONAL text and put a die in the center!

VOILA!  Get your FREE copy here. Cheers!


Can We Get a Level Please?

As many of you know there are so MANY ways to level text.  For years we have tried to determine what is a frustrational, independent and instructional level for the students we teach. I recognize that the notion of instructional levels (and even Guided Reading) is being challenged currently (see Shanahan) but some teachers are still trying to wrap their heads around the idea. I know- 'cause I work with them all over the country.  So before we challenge the idea of levels in our teaching practices... let's get a common understanding of what exactly is being challenged.

So... frustrational level... kids are going to see it! They should see it! They should be struggling with it and doing close readings of it.  But that would be the text we use in our whole class settings and spend time repeatedly reading for a different purpose to better understand what the text says, how it says it, and what it means.  So... to do this... teachers are looking more closely at LEXILE levels.  You can use Scholastic Book Wizard to do this. You can check out the Lexile suggestions for grade levels.  It is a step in the analysis of complex text which would also be FRUSTRATIONAL for most of our students.

So what about independent? Teachers need to know this... students need to know this... but it is NOT THE ONLY DETERMINING FACTOR for text selection!  Did you hear that? Don't believe it? Spend some time with Donalyn Miller... Kylene Beers... Richard Allington... Kelly Galagher... do I need to continue? It's typically the STAR assessment teachers use to help them understand a student's "independent" level.  Keep in mind though... motivation matters more than level.
Kids who want to- will!

I guarantee you some of you reading this post have a higher reading level than me... if we both walked into a book store together and through a scanner that reported our "level" and I had to go one way to the 24.5 books and you got to go another to the 26.7 books... I'd be pretty darn sad.

So this brings me to INSTRUCTIONAL LEVELS... still very much alive and well... as they should be in classrooms.  There are a variety of ways to level out there... but I encourage us all to convert.

Convert your numbers (DRA perhaps) to Fountas and Pinnell.  Why? Because their work gives us the most information to guide our work at the teacher table!  If you haven't seen it yet... the Continuum of Literacy Learning may be one of the best resources and one-stop-shops for what we teach in each component of the Balanced Literacy Framework by grade level.

If instructional levels are confusing to teachers... imagine what they are like for parents???!!! Oy vey! So... we've got to be clear about what a "level" is at the Guided Reading table as educators and be able to communicate that information to families.

Does that sound like a good idea? If you've read this far, I'm assuming it's because you want to know what FREE tool Leach Teach is going to offer?

Well... here is it!  (gosh I use a lot of ...)

This is just the first page, but this document outlines the characteristics of each level A-Z as well as the behaviors to notice/support/teach a reader at each level.  I created this when I was part of the team at DC Public Schools and encouraged teachers to send the page at their child's level home for parents with report cards or progress reports.  Just a good and simple way to explain "levels" for everyone.  You can get your copy HERE!

*NOTE: When reporting reading levels to parents... remember to report their independent level... if parents don't know how to do Guided Reading/Strategy Lessons then they can't be told their child's instructional level.

See how complicated this all is???!!!

Happy Teaching, y'all!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Were You at the ASCD Conference?

What a great conference! Over 1,800 PK and Kindergarten teachers from across the state of IL and all over the country! I was honored to be a part of it and to help these great educators think more deeply about Guided Reading and Writer's Workshop on Day 1.
Day 2 we were in the land of Social and Emotional Development and some Tech Tools for Educators!

If you came to see me- comment and share something you learned! I will send you a FREEBIE! 

If you attended my Guided Reading session, we talked about prompts that support readers at the Guided Reading table and I promised I'd share the prompts (adapted from the work of Fountas and Pinnell) on my blog... so here you go... click here to download your copy!

If you're reading this, you know about Leach Teach (the blog), but have you found Leach's Literacy Training on Facebook? Give us a LIKE to know the latest links, freebies etc. in your news feed.

And find my Teachers Pay Teachers page- so much FREE stuff to explore!

Finally, I have Pinterest Boards... pin away!

It was so nice to meet you! See you again soon- ONLINE!