I've been participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers. I love the challenge of composing a piece of writing at least once a week about life or teaching.
Important staging to this story: All students in our building recently took the Lexile assessment, and students know their scores. A new fifth grader to our district came up to me this morning with a pencil poised above a notepad and said earnestly, "My mom and I would like to ask if you have any recommendations of series that are at my Lexile level." Ahhh, teachable moment!
I want to make clear first, that I know she and her mom were trying to do the right thing, and I responded with a smile. "I'm so glad you asked me about books! I would LOVE to recommend some to you. First, let me tell you a little of my philosophy on Lexile levels. I love that we have a tool that helps us measure a part of your comprehension level and growth, and I use that information for some important things. However, my classroom library is full of books that you'll love. I'd rather recommend books that you think you'd be interested in. Lexile levels don't tell us everything about a book. How does that sound? " A lot of my students from last year started listening and got ready to join in.
Big smile. "Great!"
"Okay! Let's get started! You say you'd like to start a series? Do you have a genre in mind?"
"Oh boy, you're in luck. I've got LOTS of fantasy series in my library. Let's start." I proceeded over to the buckets filled with series such as the Guardians of Ga'Hoole (730L), The Warriors (790L), the Chronicles of Narnia (940L), Pendragon (660L), etc. Other students were getting up and heading over to the shelves with me and started offering more suggestions - some fantasy, some science fiction, all their favorites:
"Gregor the Overlander!" (630L)
"A Series of Unfortunate Events!" (1010L)
"The Maze Runner!" (770L)
"Maximum Ride!" (700L)
"Charlie Bone!" (630L)
"Savvy and Scumble!" (1070L and 900L)
"A Tale of Emily Windsnap!" (600L)
...and on and on. Her Lexile level is 1084. Does that number tell me some important things? Yes. Should she only read books at that level? No. Look at what she would miss! She was looking excited and overwhelmed at the same time. I calmed everyone down and chose a few books with her for her to preview, and she went back to her desk, ready to dig in. Most of what we recommended to her she hadn't read. I can't wait to see what she chooses!