Understanding Text Complexities

We’ve been doing some incredible work with literacy consultant and guru, Barb Golub, (@GolubBarb) this year in all of our elementary schools.  Yesterday, we met with our kindergarten teachers and discussed the delicate dance of moving a student who is working at a level A/B text over the hump of approximation to level C and decoding.  Barb was extremely helpful in explaining how and why texts are leveled across the bands, and how we as teachers need to analyze texts across the levels of complexity.

It became very clear through our discussion that if we hold students in a level too long the texts no longer provide the content and structures that these students need in order to gain exposure and be able to practice new skills.  The key is to give our students extra support when introducing the new level text and explain to them exactly what they will encounter that will be tricky.

Based off of the information Barb provided us we started to realize the importance of tracking what students are doing well within their current independent text levels.  By monitoring this we can make sure we are guiding them towards entrance into a new level at the appropriate time and not inadvertently holding them back.  Here are the checklists I made that explain what the students should be showing independence in within a text band.  With this form you can track which students are currently working within a level text and simply check off or date the box for the skill the student is showing proficiency with.  It also can be used as a guide to anticipate what will come next in this students reading experience.

For me, the biggest take away was that if we don’t provide our students with the challenge and hold them til their achieving 100% success we are doing them a disservice.  We need to provide experiences throughout our students’ educational experiences in which they struggle by doing the work and persevere with our guided support.  This is when the best learning occurs.

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