Monday, February 20, 2012

Leveled Texts: Proficiency or Deficiency?

Leveled texts are used in schools to excellerate learning to read. But do these programs really benefit the child?

Leveled texts are basically books that have been ordered by difficulty. When a child enters a level of reading, they are assigned books from their category to read and master, which would allow them to move on to higher levels. Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong.

As with anything in life, a balanced view is usually the best course to take. By confining the reading that children do, you are not only limiting their practice with more difficult concepts but also limiting their ability to choose the kind of books that they want to read.

For example, a child may see a book that fascinates him but it is at a higher level than the teacher has placed them in. Instead of seeing the child's excitement and working with them to read the slightly difficult text, the child is confined to his reading level, and to them, less exciting books.

Why would we deny a child the right to their own reading choices and experimentation with reading?

If used wisely, leveled text can be useful to practice concepts that students need help on. But just reading leveled text sets are not enough to become a proficient reader. Each child is unique, and treads a unique path on their way to reading. To follow each leveled text set by the letter for each child would be foolish, and forcing children into a cookie cutter way of learning that is just not true.

If you are using a leveled text set in your school, think critically about what you have been given and evaluate your students. Leveled texts are not the answer, but a resource that can be useful depending on how the teacher utilizes her knowledge of her students in the classroom.

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