Book Wizard: Level Those Books

Are you remembering to use Book Wizard?

Scholastic has made Book Wizard available for FREE.  Just go to their site and level any book published by Scholastic.  No membership, no fee, no nothing.  Just get the level.

This also works in reverse — which is great when you need a booklist to give to a parent.  Book Wizard will let you print out a list of books at a level or levels — and you’ll get all commercially available books — stuff they can find at Amazon or in the bookstore.

Listening Center: Free Books

I love listening centers.  I love them even more now that we’ve taken a cue from the Sisters and started thinking of them as a way in which young readers read a book.  With that frame around them, they become a powerful piece of the reading workshop time for those young readers who lack the stamina (yet) to engage in a long workshop reading time.

The challenge that we’ve been experiencing at our school is placing appropriate books in the listening area for our students.  It makes no sense to put things in there that aren’t appropriate for reading a book with some boost from the computer, cd player or whatever technology is providing the assist.  If we truly want this to be another way in which to read a book, we need to set it up so that it is exactly that.

We’ve been having some success with online sites such as Reading Rainbow and StoryLine.  And we’re struggling to figure out the best way to convert our rather extensive collection of moldy-oldie cassette tapes into something a little more 21st century.  So I was excited to find this site that will let you download the audio version of their books for free!!   I’m sure they figure this will cause us all to purchase their books (the paper kind).  And they’re probably right!!  Great marketing campaign, guys.  Anyway — go stock up on audio books for your listening center before your kids blow through all the books you have.

Improving K-3 Reading Comprehension

Finally, my tax dollars REALLY at work.

The IES What Works Clearinghouse has produced a document for teachers and administrators in K-3.  Here’s the blurb:

Students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical. This guide recommends five specific steps that teachers, reading coaches, and principals can take to successfully improve reading comprehension for young readers.

Then is gives you the recommendations and some beefy research to back it all up. The big deal?

1.Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

2. Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.

3.Guide students through focused, high-quality discussion on the meaning of text.

4.  Select texts purposefully to support comprehension development.

5. Establish an engaging and motivating context in which to teach reading comprehension.

You knew all that already, didn’t you???  Yeah, but its nice to be able to cite the experts and the big name researchers to back up what you do and why you do it.  So go here and download it for yourself.  You’ll look smart and impressive (you might actually learn something too)