How would you like to spend your school life in the bottom reading group? No matter what native flower or other cutesy name the group is given, there’s no fooling the students in the bottom reading group and Samantha for one isn’t a fan. Recently Samantha spoke to the camera about her experience as a student who has lived her classroom life in the bottom reading group, and she was forthright – “I don’t like it.”
The more the interview with Samantha progressed, the clearer I was that Samantha was no slouch in reading. She could talk at length about the comprehension strategies she’d been learning, and when and how to apply them. Shortly after interviewing Samantha, I read a challenging article by Australians Kath Glasswell and Michael Ford, entitled Let’s Start Leveling about Leveling. The article fed into my own beliefs that leveling has become a somewhat inflexible and idealistic response to the challenging task of teaching children to read. What are the issues with leveling? Well, three things to begin with:
- The methods we use to level students.
- The methods we use to level texts.
- The purposes we put leveling to.
Now Glasswell and Ford are the researchers, so I recommend you read their article. However, I need to say very clearly that every time I’m in a classroom as part of my CSI Literacy work, I see highly intelligent young people who should not (in my view) be in the bottom reading group. These students love to be liberated, by being included in whole-group discussions about digital texts that they‘re sharing with the teacher and their peers. Their enjoyment of strategic and vocabulary learning, and their enjoyment of oral language – theirs and their peers – shines on their faces.
In CSI Literacy we break the mold by freeing students from their leveled groups and their leveled texts. We bring them together in a classroom learning community and have them share their ideas about texts that are they are able to access through the supportive scaffolding of their teachers and their peers. And they love it!Pin It