Sunday, February 17, 2013

Leveling - A Double Edged Sword

Upon reflecting on Glasswell & Ford's article, "Lets Start Leveling About Leveling," I'm reminded that while leveling is based off the idea that children need to spend time with texts that can help them grow and develop as readers, an unintentional orthodoxy has been observed that has resulted in a focus on inflexible implementation of the "one right way" to engage and address that goal.  It is observed that a teacher's judgement has diminished in the leveling process and lists and numbers increasingly replaced those judgments.

As educators, it is necessary to remember that leveling systems are unable to assess whether a child is reading in an emotionally safe and comfortable setting and that they only acknowledge reader factors that can quickly be assessed and interpreted.  This method of quick, efficient assessment has unintentionally masked the complexity of the text factors at play in determining why a book is considered more difficult than another for any given reader on any given day.

We should be reminded that the job of the teacher is to stay attuned to those complex influencing factors when choosing texts for our students and to be more flexible in thinking about a reader's needs.  The selected texts should be both age appropriate and engaging for the reader in order to stimulate the reader's thinking.  In the end, a teacher's professional judgement still remains the critical factor in planning and implementing successful reading instruction.

For the original source & article, Glasswell & Ford's article, "Lets Start Leveling About Leveling," can be found in the journal: Language Arts, Volume 88, No. 3, January 2011.

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