Lose the Leveled Libraries

Posted: March 29, 2018
Category: Uncategorized
Comments: 0

This was originally posted on November 17,  2017 but got lost in my website upgrade!

Big things happened with Fountas & Pinnell on a Twitter chat last week!

What does this mean to you? How does it translate to your classroom library? And why am I so excited? Read on to find out!

I feel very strongly about leveled libraries. I appreciate the intent of the original guided reading text leveling system, but I’m really concerned that the pendulum has swung too far. Simply put, levels were meant to be a teacher tool – NOT something shared with parents, and – perhaps more alarming – not something of which children are aware. Is there anything more discouraging than hearing a child say, “I’m a Level E reader, so I can’t read that Level F book.” I’ve already gone into my thoughts – as well as those from the field - about the dangers of this approach. Therefore let me use my time today to share some encouraging words with you about what Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (authors / creators of the leveling system) said last night on a TwitterChat. It’s hard to narrow down to my favorite quotes, but here are a few:

What about this one – reminding us that levels were meant to be a teacher tool (Not shared in conferences or grading systems!)?!

“Students’ reading levels have no place in teacher evaluation or on report cards to be sent home to parents. Too much emphasis on levels can lead to misconceptions on the part of families.”

Or how about the danger of over-leveling readers and thereby discouraging children to read certain books?

“We would never take a book out of a child’s hands. And when we restrict kids to reading on a specific level, we’re really restricting their opportunities.”

And their advice to teachers on hold to handle parent questions / concerns about reading levels?

“Use language families understand e.g., “your child is reading at a level that is appropriate at this point in time for this grade” or “your child is not yet reading at a level that we would hope he would be reading at, but we are supporting your child in these ways…”

As someone who spends my career working with teachers, this kernel was particularly important to me. Look at how little time is spent with leveled books! (insert photo)

“Guided reading is the only instructional context in which leveled texts should be used. Levels are a tool for selecting texts and forming groups.”

An effective classroom library is organized by genre, topic, author, interest area, etc. Levels are nowhere to be found!

Now that we’ve heard from the experts, it’s time to turnkey this knowledge to teachers. Parents, find a friendly, constructive way to talk to your school leaders / teachers to #losethelabel. Teachers, step outside of your comfort zone and think creatively about organizing your classroom libraries. As always, keep the conversation coming by following me on twitter (@drmollyness) and sharing my blog posts.

Hey, like this? Why not share it with a buddy?

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Don’t miss my biweekly Reading Review