P2 – Practice differentiated instruction. No two students learn the same way. Each has strengths and weaknesses. In response to those differences, instruction can be modified or tailored to the student’s needs. In our school, we use leveled readers in order to ensure that each student in reading at an appropriate level. Many students will try to read books that are above their ability or comprehension, not understanding that it is too difficult for them, at least until they have invested a great deal of time and stress in the reading. We want to show students that when a book is “just right,” reading can be an enjoyable experience.
We did an individual evaluation for each student to allow them to read books from the class library that are suited for their level. Each book is labeled with a letter that corresponds to a reading level, as shown in Image 1. These evaluations consist of reading aloud for fluency and self-correcting, reading silently, recall of the selected passage, and answering both open and closed questions about the text. The assessments we use are based off of The Teacher’s College assessments. According to the group, when student fluency falls below 90%, this often indicates that the book level would be too hard, even with assistance, and the student might become frustrated with the text. One student’s running record is shown in Image 2.
Although some students came to our class with evaluations from their third-grade teachers, we re-evaluated them just in case their reading improved over the summer or in case they needed to take a step back due to a summer reading lull. We also re-evaluate students when they feel that they are ready for more challenging books. They can only request to retest if they have conferenced with us about multiple books that they have read at their level.
As opposed to reading a whole-class novel that may be too advanced or too simple for some students, we can group students based on their levels so they can set their own goals and make progress based on their own starting point. These groups’ books are shown in Image 3. This is a great improvement on the basal reader, which rarely takes into consideration that many students are reading below grade-level. The students enjoy reading the same book as others in their class, but as opposed to a whole-class novel, they will be reading a book that is appropriate for their abilities.