Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Recently, someone asked me how to correctly identify the reading level of a book, and what levels were appropriate for Kindergarten. So I thought that I would share this information on my blog, just i case anyone else out there was wondering, too. I am always interested to hear what reading levels are expected of Kindergarten children in different parts of the country, so if you would like to comment and share what levels are expected at your school, please do so!
There are several different systems for leveling books. If you look on this site, http://bookwizard.scholastic.com, you can easily see the difference. First, look in the upper right corner of the page for these words:
Grade Level Equivalent
Lexile Framework for Reading
DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment)
These are four different systems of leveling books. In other words, what we have here are four different ways of saying the same thing. All you have to do is type in the name of a book that you want to level, and then select one of these systems. Then the website searches for that book and tells you its level. Of course, you won't find every book in the system, but there are lots of them there.
For example, if I type in the book, "Biscuit" and set the leveling system at Guided Reading Level, I find that my book is Guided Reading Level F. If I change the system to DRA and then press "set," it changes the level of my Biscuit book to DRA 9-10. If I change it to Grade Level Equivalent, then it is 1.5, meaning grade one, fifth month. If I change it to Lexile framework, then it changes to 190L. Don't ask me what that means!
But what is important to me is that I am very pleased when I can get a group of my kindergarten kids to read a Biscuit book by December or January. Many kids will never get there in K, at least at my school. And of course, many kids are able to go much further! It depends a lot on the child and the type of preschool experiences he or she has had, and if there are any literacy experiences going on at home, etc. Many teachers try to level all of the reading books in their classroom and keep them separated into bins, and direct children to certain levels of books that they would consider to be a good fit to the child’s reading level.
At my school, children that are able to read a Guided Reading Level F book (such as Biscuit) sometime before the end of the year with reasonable fluency are usually considered to be reading above grade level. In an average class of 22 students, there are usually 5-7 children that easily reach that goal by February, and another group of 5-6 children that can get there by May, provided that they are motivated and their parents are also reading with them at home. The rest of the children are usually able to read simple books with just sight words and CVC words that they have been introduced to. Of course, there are usually also a few children that are struggling with other issues, and who are still just learning to decode words and build a small sight word vocabulary at the end of the year. These children are usually considered to be functioning below grade level if this is all that they can do by the end of the school year.
Friday, August 7, 2009
My Back To School Night Presentation has grown over the years, and it is probably a bit too long by now! Last year, I made my first power point presentation to show for Back to School Night, and now I would never want to give the presentation without it! Below I have listed the most important elements of this presentation. Also included are lots of pictures of special events from previous years’ Kindergarten classes. I include photos of the important items that I am discussing, such as our “All About Me” bags for sharing, the children’s book bag for homework books, plus the book bags for our library books.
Back to School Night Presentation Includes:
1. Review of general procedures regarding homework, reading logs, birthdays, sharing days (or each child’s “All About Me” week.
2. Go over Monthly Themes and Special Events handout, and discuss the highlights.
3. Give library days and policy for checking out homework books.
4. Discuss the Accelerated Reader Program
5. Discuss Book Buddies Program.
6. Discuss computer lab usage.
7. Discuss the use of manipulatives and hands-on activities in the classroom, and it’s implications for make-up work. (If a child misses school, there may not be much “make-up work” for the child to do at home, since most of the work is done with real objects rather than worksheets. Regular attendance is vitally important.
9. Review procedures for dropping of children when late to school, and where to pick up children at the end of the day.
10. Discuss the state standards and “Goals to Reach By June” handout.
11. Explain the purpose of Zoo-Phonics and Jumpin’ Numbers programs. Show hand motions.
12. Explain the use of sight word spelling songs, Rainbow Words, and the use of reading manipulatives such as letter beads and forming words out of play dough.
13. Explain the use of Zip Strips and flash cards for CVC word practice at home.
14. Discuss the handout, “How to Help Your Child with Writing Assignments.” Explain what a “word wall” is for, “kid writing vs. adult writing,” and inventive spelling used as tools to help young writers.
15. Discuss phonemic awareness expectations.
16. Discuss story retelling expectations.
17. Discuss state standards for math. Give examples of what the children will do as far as patterning, sorting, addition, and subtraction are concerned.
18. Explain the problem solving test as it is given in my district and give examples of questions.
19. Explain the district’s policy on retention/repeating the Kindergarten year, and how parents can know how their child is doing.
20. Discuss what parents can do to help their children succeed.
21. Discuss what parents can do to reinforce school rules.
22. Using a projector and a computer, show pictures of the current class doing some of these activities.
Afterwards, of course, I try to allow time for questions. In addition to the documents posted here, I give everyone a copy of the Zoo-Phonics and Jumpin’ Numbers Flash Cards to practice with at home.