Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lexile Levels and the Common Core

“…We were born vampires."
"I thought you became –"
"— vampires by being bitten? Dear me, no. Oh, we can turn people into vampires, it’s an easy technique, but what would be the point? When you eat… now what is it you eat? Oh yes, chocolate… you don’t want to turn it into another Agnes Nitt, do you? Less chocolate to go around."
He sighed. "Oh dear, superstition, superstition everywhere we turn.”
― Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum 

The new lexile level framework requires us as teachers and learners to work within a more complex dimension of text.  This may require that some of the old familiar standbys be replaced by texts that offer deeper levels of meaning and provide for a more vocabulary-rich reading/understanding experience. 

Librarians stand at the precipice of both understanding what is required by the Common Core and providing appropriate resources to teachers and administrators.  For example, if a teacher needs samples of persuasive writing or satire to use in the classroom, the library media specialist can offer a variety of books and other materials to use. 

The above quote from Terry Pratchett's book Carpe Jugulum (Seize the throat) satirizes our contemporary culture's love of vampire literature and film.  A deeper reading into both the author's literal and underyling message supports the new demands that students must delve into the layered meaning of language-rich texts.

To illustrate the type of texts that can be used to support classroom learning, below is a list of titles that the library recently purchased for a 5th grade persuasive writing assignment.  Lists of this sort can be generated for teachers for units across the ELA curriculum.

Dear Mrs. La Rue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague
My Brother Dan's Delicious  by Steven L. Layne
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff
I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff
Writing to Persuade: Minilessons to Help Students
Should We Have Pets by Sylvia Lollis
Should There be Zoos by Tony Stead

 The lexile framework above has, according to the Common Core: "adjusted upward its trajectory of reading comprehension development through the grades to indicate that all students should be reading at the college and career readiness level by no later than the end of high school."  Librarians specialize in the analysis and evaluation of text and are on hand to select, purchase, and make available in multiple formats texts that support this new framework.

New this year - OPALS now provides the lexile levels for many of the books in our librariesAs you search the catalog you will find the lexile levels in the records for many books - especially ones recently purchased.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Distracted by Everything

Remember the good old days when you rushed home to see if the light was blinking on your answering machine? Yes! Someone was thinking of you. Now, we incessantly check our cell phone even if it hasn't chirped or buzzed - just on the off chance. Hey! Can an hour really have gone by without someone thinking of us? How many times a day can the human brain be interrupted? It may be long past time to consider how these distractions add up over the course of a day. Consider the possibility that constant distractions have ramifications far beyond what one may think. Research (see below) shows that our brains are ill-equipped to bounce back and forth between higher level thinking tasks - and to do either task really well. Not to mention that odd social expectation that we must respond quickly to all electronic messages. Face to face. Single tasking. Those are my new year's resolutions. Say, I may just leave my phone at home. How retro!

For more information:

The Myth of Multitasking - The New Atlantis

Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows
The Stanford study shows that constant connection to technology and steady stream of interruptions may actually be causing our brains to be less effective.