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04 Dec 2006 - 15:03
Now that we have across-the-board
Plan A has to be figuring out whether there is or is not a decent Catholic boys' school somewhere in Westchester County. At this point I think even Ed would be on board for packing Christopher off to the Jesuits for the next few years. (He's come a long way, baby.) Christian claims there's a good one in White Plains, so I'll look into it.
wow They have a parents Crusader Club at Stepinac High School. That could be good.
whoa Their graduates are going to good schools. (Click on "Admissions"; then Click on "Graduates.") So....I guess the next step is to check out tuition. Good Lord. $6,650 We could do it.
hmmm.... Their SAT scores are "above average." No further info. That's a bad sign.
Alright, enough of that.* As I was saying, I'm trying to figure out
San Diego Quick Assessment (pdf file) The San Diego Quick Assessment is a dandy tool, I think. I gave it to Christopher and discovered that his "reading for pleasure" level is grade 6; his "instructional" level is grade 7. I suspect he's going to come out higher than that on the ITBS, but the San Diego was helpful. The two words Christopher couldn't read both belong to science vocabulary, which I think is probably good:** "relativity" (grade 6) and "capillary" (grade 7). If you're going to use it with your own child, use this link.
So I cruised the readability stuff....and got out my book on summarizing and finally committed to reading the whole thing....and in brief, semi-lucid waking moments I was trying to figure out how, exactly, I'm going to make sure Christopher reads progressively more challenging material AND is "held accountable," by me, for his progressively more challenging reading, I came across the following passage:
Studies show that children often select books both above and below their current reading level, and this is a good thing. Children can often understand large sections of books that are "too hard" because of their interest in and knowledge of the topic,2 and "easy" books often provide valuable background in a new genre that encourages subsequent reading and makes it more comprehensible (Carter, 2000). Left on their own, children engage in a "back and forth movement" between easy and hard books, reading both below and above their current reading levels (Fresch, 1995). In addition, children gradually read books that are more challenging, without the use of reading levels (Krashen, 2001a). The back and forth movement is actually a sine wave that gradually moves upward. Stenner appears to agree. in one Metametrics brochure ("The 3 Rs': Using the Lexile Framework"), it states that "one strategy that works well is to have students read an easier text on the same subject in order to provide some background knowledge and vocabulary" (p. 3). And Stenner, Burdick, Sanford and Burdick (2001) advise that "the Lexile Framework should never be the only factor considered when selecting a book" (p. 49). source:
This is one of those dilemmas where I don't have time to figure it all out; I'm going to have to rely on Bayesian priors and, furthermore, I am going to have to assume that I have some Bayesian priors worth listening to. The one Bayesian prior I have to hope is gold in the bank is me: as far as I can tell, I owe my own recentered Verbal 790 not to anything my schools did, but to the fact that I was a bookworm. (Do people even use the term "bookworm" any more? Do bookworms still exist?) I read all the time, from age 5 on. I read whatever I wanted to read, and what I wanted to read was fiction. I read fiction & only fiction up until high school when I started reading the Great Works of authors like A.S. Neill, John Holt, and Eldridge Cleaver. So....I'm going to do what my mother did. Keep Christopher well-stocked in the best books I can find, buy him anything he's remotely interested in reading, and hope for the best.
I may also try to bribe the school into giving him an assigned reading list filled with books at his actual reading level. The difference between Christopher and me is PlayStation and pro wrestling. If the school told Christopher he had to read X number of books this year, he'd read X number of books. Unfortunately, the school's reading plan for 7th graders appears to consist of....two books? Three? Well, maybe it's four. Maybe they read one book a quarter. I don't know. Parents never know! I think Ed and I are going to figure out a whole new plan....
Meanwhile I continue to feel that Vocabulary Workshop is an excellent work-around for non-bookworm boy-type kids.
Elaine McEwan website
* The quest for rescue-by-parochial-school has begun early this year. ** "good" because I suspect that science vocabulary is the least important language Christopher needs at this point and even down the line....and because Christopher has had two quite good science teachers so far in middle school. I think he's getting what he needs there - or getting as much as he can.
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"Left on their own, children engage in a "back and forth movement" between easy and hard books, reading both below and above their current reading levels." Yes, but what if children want to gravitate toward less challenging books or books that are way above grade level? Not everyone loves to read. It is a challenge to get my third grader to read. However, last year, he received a 38 on his Direct Reading Assessment (DRA) in the spring. I'm assuming a 38 is third grade, eighth month for the DRA assessment. So I thought that was pretty good. He is above grade level. However, on his report card this year, he was at a 3.1 reading level. The school's DRA kits were sent back to the printer due to errors so the students are assessed by PALS and taking basal reader comprehension tests. I'm not sure his 3.1 reading score is accurate, but I have know way of knowing through the school. I'm going to give him the San Diego assessment today. Also, he is bringing home 8.4 and 5.1 accelerated reader books from the school library. The eighth grade book is Jack London's White Fang. If he is reading on a 3.1 level, does this mean he can even follow this book? Perhaps yes because he has read the adapted version...he has prior knowledge. It is my feeling he chose it because he didn't know what else to choose. Which is another cause for concern. He chooses fifth and eighth grade library books to read and write about. He has to do a reading log every week. How can you write about something you can't understand? I would like him to enjoy reading and understand what he is reading. What is the teacher's role or the librarians for that matter in guiding students to the appropriate books? I could read my husband's technical manuals all day and not understand a lick about what I just read. --Paula V -- PaulaVal - 04 Dec 2006
He chooses fifth and eighth grade library books to read and write about. He has to do a reading log every week. How can you write about something you can't understand? well....I think that's what Elaine McEwan was getting at .... I think she had believed "SSR" sessions ("sustained silent reading") were going to be valuable and they're turning out not to be... -- CatherineJohnson - 04 Dec 2006
What ideas does anyone have about "quickie" assessments of whether your child is understanding the books he reads? I tend to believe this author's argument that kids won't routinely read things they don't understand.... But on the other hand if a child is forced to read books because he has to read books.....I don't know. -- CatherineJohnson - 04 Dec 2006