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Today we have a plethora of resources available to use in our classrooms. This allows students to get a meaningful text at their level. Matching text to students allows them to read more independently, practice note-taking skills and learn about classroom standards or content in a meaningful way.  Each student in our classroom comes to us with different abilities and it is our responsibility to meet their needs. [bctt tweet=”Leveling text allows this learning to happen.”]

Guided reading had been in practice for over 15 years. Students are grouped according to their instructional level and taught phonetic decoding, comprehension, and fluency skills. Many companies offer leveled text including scholastic, reading A to Z, Read Works, and other sites. Reading at their instructional level, students build confidence in their comprehension and reading skills. This allows both struggling readers and fluent readers to learn and grow in reading content.

Using leveled text goes beyond guided reading instruction and can be incorporated into other areas. Each student does not need to be specifically leveled, instead you can think about your students in groups. Are they reading at grade level, below grade level or above grade level?  Using this approach you can provide the same content for all students in your classroom but with meaningful text.
We all know textbooks are written above grade level.  We also know each classroom has a mixture of student readers. There are a few things classroom teachers can do to match students with text.

1.Microsoft Word allows text to be evaluated for reading level.  It is called “readability level” and can be used to determine what level text you are providing for students.  I have used this before when I have an article for students.  Type in (or copy and paste) the article.  Determine the readability and then edit for overall text length, sentence length and vocabulary to adjust the same text to all readers.  I try to provide something at grade level and below grade level when editing in word.

2.Read Works  and News ELA provide articles on many topics.  You can use these in the classroom by finding levels that match your readers.  I often use Read Works to find articles with similar content that are on below grade level, grade level, and above grade level.  Students are matched to the passage and all students are asked to read with a specific purpose.  You can also provide students with articles on their reading level but with different content and then jigsaw so students share their content and all readers learn about all content.

3.Reading aloud is an important tool that is slowly becoming a lost art.  Students need to hear information read aloud above their own independent reading level.  You can read aloud from content, picture books and chapter books.  Another fabulous resource is to let other read aloud.  Check out a fabulous resource from the Actor’s Guild, Storyline Online. Hearing text is important for students to have a model of fluency, vocabulary and story structure.

4.Today no classroom is complete without technology.  There are apps you can use that help in leveled reading classroom.  Check out this resource for ideas that might work for you.

Not every text in your classroom will match every student.  But there are many opportunities for students to practice their independent reading skills with leveled texts. Providing text at the readers level will increase their success, confidence, motivation and therefore, decrease classroom management challenges. Think about everything you have students read in a day and try one of these methods to level the text in your room.

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading...

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