Good readers know that they can never to judge a book by it's cover, but do good reading teachers know that they can not judge a reader by their reading level? Reading Levels have always been a hot topic in my face-to-face conversations with teachers. Now, new Web 2.0 tools like Fab Lexile (Thanks Keisa) and Google Docs Text Leveling (Thanks Richard) have made it even easier to discover the reading level of your favorite text. But, before you punch in those numbers, let's take some time to consider exactly what "reading level" means to readers
There is definite power and advantage in having a "gradient of increasingly more difficult text" for students to practice their developing literacy competencies across. Helping students understand their "just right" level can be aided by leveling tools and systems as it allows students to more efficiently find books that match their abilities and interests.
Yet, we must understand that "level" is a very narrow indicator of a students reading ability, strengths and abilities. We have all seen students successfully handle text that far exceed their "level" when they are reading in a topic they are passionate about. Levels become a concern when we begin to see readers confusing the level of the text they are reading with the kind of reader they are and can be.
The following short clip is a conversation exploring a broader, more comprehensive idea of reading level and can serve as a reminder that we can't judge a book by it's cover or a reader by their level!
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