Tag Archives: guided reading

The “Just Right” Double-Edged Sword


Initially, this post had the tone of a soap box rant, a sermon about reading levels.  I pushed the laptop away last night and didn’t hit publish.  I’m glad that I left this post a draft until now – because I really don’t want to sound preachy about this topic.  I want my message to come across as a sweet note found in the lunchbox of parents and teachers.


Would anyone ever tell Libby that she isn’t reading Pete the Cat correctly?  Or that Pete the Cat is too hard for her because she is only 3?  Of course not!  So let us keep this in mind when helping our students choose books at home, school, the library, and beyond.  Do I think knowing a child’s reading level is beneficial?  Of course!  Reading levels help teachers know what a student can read independently and can be used as a guide post for helping him/her grow as a reader.  At the same time, my students have free reign over the classroom library.  There are so many titles, I section it off for them at times, just to help with organization.  But – they can choose ANY book to read from the plethora.  I fight past the worry I may have for my struggling readers who could choose a book that contains text that is frustrating for them.  I watch them flip through pages, come to a conclusion, and either put the book back or settle in for the duration.  More often than not, the book is put back not because of difficulty, but because it does not interest them.  Studies have shown that readers who have an interest in what they are reading comprehend better – despite the level of the text.

And now I think I’m starting to get preachy… So I’ll end with this – Reading levels are a guide post for the “Just Right” book for your child.  “Just Right” meaning he or she can read it independently, not “Just Right” meaning the only books to read.  A level should not stifle, but scaffold.  Nurture your reader.  Give students voice and choice in their reading – and watch them grow. Watch them learn.  Watch them fall in love for the very first time…with books.

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Research about reading, interest, and comprehension:





Reading level resources for parents and teachers:






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Mayday, Mayday! “Emergent”cy

e·mer·gent (adjective)

1.coming into view or notice; issuing.
2.emerging; rising from a liquid or other surrounding medium.
3.coming into existence, especially with political independence: the emergent nations of Africa.
4.arising casually or unexpectedly.
5.calling for immediate action; urgent.
I signed up for a professional development course offered by district called Emergent Literacy.  I signed up for this course for 2 reasons: Required hours and interest in the subject.  In reading the course description, I expected to gain some new knowledge of how to best work with my kinders and their varying levels of ability when it comes to reading.  After my first class last week, I’m not sure this class is suited for me and my interests.  However, I’ve decided to make the best of it – and share the best bits I read and hear with you!
First off – let’s look at the different levels of readers.  There are varying descriptors of emergent readers out there.
I also like Reading A to Z’s descriptions of the levels:
For our first reading assignments, we were given 2 articles and 2 selections from the texts we are using.
Learning-Materials--Guided-Reading-Making-It-Work-Grade-K-3--SC-0439116392_L      The-Next-Step-in-Guided-Reading-9780545133616
My jury is still out on the books.  What I can see so far is that they are good resources for teachers just starting out with guided reading groups in their classroom.
Best bits (From “Every Child, Everyday” by Richard Allington and Rachael Gabriel):
  • Every child reads something he or she chooses.  This is imperative.  Student voice and choice, especially with reading can make or break a situation.  Students read more, understand more, and are more likely to continue reading when they have a say in what they read.
  • Every child reads accurately. Students who read at 98 percent or higher accuracy or more are better able to accelerate their own reading.  Students who are struggling with accuracy and fluency are at a disadvantage because they read less text and are less likely to understand what they read.
  • Every child reads something he or she understands.  Reading to understand is the main goal of reading.  Struggling readers have difficulty with comprehension, but interventions are based on working with skills in isolation.  Using remediation strategies with  these students that have an emphasis on comprehension (reading and rereading of texts, etc) can actually change the structure of their brains, increasing reading ability.
  • Every child writes about something personally meaningful.  Reading equals writing.  Writing gives students a different path to practice their reading skills and strategies in an authentic way.  When a students care about the writing, they have to think about the best way to get their ideas across to someone reading their writing.  This thought process helps them produce writing that they and someone else can comprehend.
  • Every child talks with peers about reading and writing.  Being able to talk about texts in a variety of settings can improve comprehension and engagement.  Time to talk is often an underused tool for instruction. Your writing and reading centers do not necessarily need to be silent stations.  Create spaces where students feel comfortable discussing what they are reading and writing.  Shared reading and writing lends to this important type of discussion as well.
  • Every child listens to a fluent adult read aloud.  Listening to a fluent reader helps increase students’ own fluency and comprehension.  Model, model, model – fluency, questioning, context clues, et al.  Sadly, read aloud time in older grades is not as prevalent as with younger grades.
read 20 min at home

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