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Using the Lexile Framework to Differentiate in Reading
The Lexile reading levels are a great way to help students recognise which texts are most appropriate for their reading abilities, but also a great way for teachers to make sure that they are exposing their students to a varied and challenging collection of books.
This article explores grade equivalents, classroom organization, and techniques on using Lexile measures to get the most out of your students.
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Lexile Reading Levels
If there is one thing that parents and teachers yearn to know about the Lexile Framework for Reading, it is the relationship between Lexiles and grade levels. Here are the grade equivalents that are listed on www.lexile.com. The numbers are quoted as a range to represent low and high ability students for a given grade level.
Grade 1: Up to 300L, Grade 2: 140-500L, Grade 3: 330-700L, Grade 4: 445-810L, Grade 5: 565-910L
Grade 6: 665-1000L, Grade 7: 735-1065L, Grade 8: 805-1100L, Grade 9: 885-1165L, Grade 10: 905-1195L
Grades 11 and 12: 940-1210L.
The overlap of Lexile reading levels between grades is deliberate to allow for the range of reading abilities that will likely be present in any given class. These numbers are statistical and should be viewed as a guide for an average student in an average class. They may not be indicative of the abilities of your students, but they give a good general guide as to the kinds of texts that a student of a certain age could, or should, be expected to be reading.
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Organizing Your Classroom Library
When you commit to using the Lexile framework to differentiate in reading, it is important that you organize your classroom library by Lexile reading levels in order to best support the students in their free reading choices. There are a number of ways to do this, but first you must determine the correct Lexile measure for each text. Read this article for more details on how to find Lexile measures.
Once you have the correct measures, many teachers add colored stickers to the spines of their books which have the corresponding Lexile reading levels for that text, and order them numerically on book shelves. These stickers are often best used if they are color coordinated. For instance, books with Lexile measures in the 500s are green, texts with Lexile reading levels in the 600s are purple, and so on. This helps give students a visual recognition of the level of book they are looking for. The color you choose does not really matter, but if you adopt the Lexile Framework for Reading across all the classrooms in your school, a degree of consistency is advised. That way, when students move between classes or grades, the system they are used to is familiar regardless of the classroom. If you are running out of colors, a useful tip is to give the two extremes of your Lexile reading levels the same color, (e.g. 100s and 900s), as they are unlikely to be present in the same class.
Other teachers prefer to sort their books by boxes or storage bins. The advantage of this method is that you can group together books in a given range, e.g. 200s - 400s. Students need not look along a shelf for the right number of book, they just go to the storage bin that they have been allocated. This works best for younger students, and also operates well when color coordinated. For instance, you can assign some students to the red box of books, and others to the blue box, and so on.
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Giving Your Students Ownership of their Learning
When you have Lexile reading levels for your students, it is considered good practice to share this information with them. It includes them in the learning process, and often empowers them to strive to improve and increase their scores. However, it is also important to tell students that the Lexile reading levels are a guide to their reading ability and not a restriction of it. Without this knowledge, some students have been known to say that they cannot read a certain book as it is outside of their Lexile range. The Lexile reading levels should not be seen as a restriction upon reading. While it is not advisable for students to spend significant amounts of time reading outside their Lexile range, they should also not feel that they are stuck with a set number of reading opportunities. Instead, it is the job of the teacher to encourage students to make good decisions over the texts they are choosing to read, and to teach an awareness of what reading habits will best improve their reading skills.
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Lexile reading levels are an effective way of using the Lexile Framework to differentiate in reading. It is a system that can be used with even the youngest students, the benefits it provides for your students will quickly become apparent.