Tag Archives: lexiles

Connecting a Novel with Non-Fiction Text

During the 3rd nine weeks, my Resource Room Language Arts students read the Jerry Spinelli novel, Stargirl. This fiction selection’s Lexile is 590L. This is a little low for the grade levels I teach (6th-8th) but the text fits the needs of my students.

It takes me a long time to get through a novel – longer than I really want most years. I like to throw in writing activities, games, and projects which lengthens the time I need to get through it.

This year I am working with a block schedule and may find it easier/faster to get through the book.

To keep a good balance between fiction and non-fiction, I am going to incorporate a piece of informational text every few chapters.

I have previously mentioned the huge non-fiction selection at ReadWorks. I decided to use this resource to come up with related non-fiction texts. I used the keyword search to looks for passages including: bullying, high school, fashion, and names

While I haven’t quite decided exactly where each of these selections will fit in the book, this is the list I am working with. I have noted the Lexile and the skills covered for each passage.

Fashion Do or Don’t ; Lexile 980; Fact and Opinion

How to Overcome Shyness; Lexile 860; Multiple Skills

Back Off (Deals with bullies; Lexile 630; Multiple Skills

Stop Bullying; Lexile 740; Genre

Boys Only – Girls Only (Same sex schools); Lexile 690; Multiple Skills

The Billings Middle School Badger News: Are School Uniforms Really That Bad?; Lexile 990; Fact and Opinion

What’s in a Name?; Lexile 860; Theme

You may want to consider this option with your next novel. I think it will break up the daily reading of the novel and provide an opportunity to incorporate more Common Core standards.

Free Non-Fiction Passages

ReadWorks boasts 1,000 free non-fiction passages aligned to the Common Core. Each passage has “researched-based question sets.” Each passage is also assigned a grade level and a Lexile.

Free registration, a keyword search, and a skill/strategy filter….This is like an early Christmas (if you are a teacher-nerd like me!)

Keeping “Classics” vs. The Common Core

For the past three years I have taught Language Arts 8 in a Resource Room setting. Working with students with decoding and reading comprehension skills below grade-level, I am forced to modify the materials and curriculum used by the other Language Arts teachers. Choosing reading material isn’t always easy – it must be high interest and low readability. I feel like I have a pretty good choice of novels and selections from the text book that cover everything I need to cover.

The four novels I read during the school year are

*With the exception of Stargirl, the general education teachers at my grade level use these exact same novels.

However, with the adoption of the Common Core, I am faced with a decision. All because of increased lexile bands.

According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the lexile levels will increase for each grade level band. 6th-8th graders who were previously reading in the 860L–1010L range but will now be expected to read in the 955L–1155L range.

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Taken from the Common Core, Appendix A

While the jump is not earth shattering for high ability readers, it is significant for students with reading disabilities.

Look again at the novels I use with my students with disabilities:

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According to the lexile levels, only one of these books falls into the new range for 8th graders. In fact, three of these books are apparently in the range for 2nd and 3rd graders! If you haven’t read The Outsiders or The Giver, there are definitely some scenes that are not appropriate for 7-8 year olds. (I do understand the the Common Core is not recommending students at that grade level read these particular books, but you must get what I am saying.)

So does that mean that we ditch the books that have been middle school “classics” for years? The content is appropriate and the literary elements are there. I’ve seen these books make non-readers read because of the story lines. I’ve seen non-readers take these books home or ask if they can keep a copy because they love them. I’ve had students say that their parents are now reading these books because they’ve raved about them so much. In my mind, these books are keepers!

My frustration is in the fact that some people think that these novels, because of their lexile levels, must be thrown out. How can I justify not using three of the four books I have built my curriculum around? Especially when these novels are perfect for the students I work with.

At this point, I plan to use these novels and supplement with increasingly more difficult text as my students are able to handle it. Supposedly, we will be getting some software that will allow us to determine a student’s reading range. This should be helpful in writing the IEP and planning instruction, but will I be allowed to use these novels with 8th graders? That answer will hopefully come when we receive additional training in the Common Core later this summer.

How do you feel about the new lexiles and the Common Core?
Would you discard a classic novel that is grade appropriate because of its lexile?
How will you select your novels as your district adopts the Common Core?

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