Tuesday, August 9, 2011

RTTT, CCSS, the Library & Classroom Resources

Many librarians find it disheartening to hear literacy programs such as Fontas & Pinnel mandate the existence of a classroom library to enrich the student's choices.  Do we really need to replicate the library in every classroom?   If a standard elementary school has 6 grades, and let's say 4 classes in each grade, we have 24 classrooms each with 500 books, yielding a total of 12000 books in the school--which are not lexiled, indexed, cataloged for easy access, and more.  The students are merely able to easily grab a book when they want. They might have been chosen by educators well acquainted with good literature and the premise might be all well and good--but they now come with a long list of new caveats.  
      Along comes the Common Core with reading rigor now required.  These classroom libraries are not apt to meet the Common Core mandates for reading with targeted complex text.  While these classroom libraries might be convenient, we should turn our attention to the reading requirements of the CCSS.  The framework for the PARCC assessments has just been released. Here are some interesting statements:
* "To succeed on the PARCC assessments, students need access to a wide range of materials on a variety of topics and genres...to ensure that they have opportunities to independently read widely among texts of their own choosing during and outside of the school day.... Such independent reading needs to include texts at the reading level of students as well as texts with complexity levels that will challenge and motivate them." (p.6)
* "Leveled texts that are below grade band level in complexity are not a substitute; the standards indicate students should be reading grade band-level complex text.  ( from: Draft Model content Frameworks for ELA/Literacy PARCC p.6)
* Writing expectations: "Present credible evidence from texts,..." (p.8) "practice of students learning how to read closely...."
So under carefully planning, teachers need to be cognizant of not only good books, but the content, lexiles, text complexity and more.  Librarians can help classroom teachers with this difficult task.   Most book-jobbers and third party automation hosting solutions offer a recon for catalogs which will embed Lexile counts on all library books. (Mackin, Perma-bound and Follett are three.  Compare the fees as they are vastly different.)  We just finished Lexiling all our our 84 school library catalogs with Lexile counts.  These 84 school librarians will be able to assist classroom teachers with identifying correctly matched reading material for students and classroom materials.   I ask: are those 500 book classroom F & P collections matched to challenge the readers with the recommended Lexiles for each grade? 
      At the site www.Lexile.com  librarians and teachers can quickly assess the level of a book, title by title.  This site by Metametrics, also offers many explanations as to why complex text is important and the role that Lexile plays in assessment and instruction. 
Happy reading, and remember.... ask your school librarian to assist you in finding great books to match reading interests., ability, and instructional mandated levels. 

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