Sunday, February 27, 2011


Don't let the recently passed Valentines "season" be the only time we tell our students that we care!  Encouragement is so important for all of us.  There is no better way to get all-out effort from your students than to let them know we BELIEVE in them!  This week is an important one for Texas 4th graders, as they will take their state writing test.  I've come to a school this year that has so many standing traditions in place to encourage their writers.  Besides the excellent instruction the students receive from their dedicated writing teacher, there has been a writers' conference complete with guest speakers, as well as a Valentines writers tea.  But I think my favorite activity so far is the way each school employee from cafeteria workers to administration "adopts" 1 or more 4th graders to which they will write an encouraging note.  Just before the test, each 4th grader will receive more than one friendly message from an adult they respect telling them, YOU CAN DO IT!  Admit it.  We ALL need to hear that from time to time!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Leveling Books


Studies show that the best way for a student to improve their reading level is to dramatically increase the volume of books they are reading at the level that's right for them.  At my school, we use the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment.

The tricky part is for teachers to monitor that kids are truly reading on their independent level and not carrying around the latest greatest series, that is 4 levels above which they can comprehend, because it makes them look cool.

This isn't always easy.  Especially since we want our students to be able to choose their own reading materials.

One way to make it easier in your classroom is to level your classroom library.  You might not have the time or energy to arrange your entire library from A-Z, but you can arrange your books in at least 3 sections (Easy, Medium, Hard).  I arranged mine as groups A, B, C and allowed my students to choose within their section.  It's not always perfect but getting closer.  There is a website that I've used to level my books:

I've found this site easy to navigate.  Check it out.  You can also google your book titles along with the words, "Guided Reading Level," and find several locations such as Scholastic and sometimes Amazon that will give book levels.

Hope this helps you get your students on the level.
Off to look up another title...