When selecting this range of diverse texts for your program, ask yourself whether the texts you select will truly give your students a break from the traditional school-day. Are your students merely experiencing what the Carnegie Corporation's Adolescent Literacy Development in Out-of-School Time Practitioner's Handbookrefers to as "more of the same" of what they experience all day during school, or is your program providing them with texts that really distinguish your program as unique from the school day? Have you found a way to embed academic literacy development using texts that are responsive to student interests?
The information below will describes how to determine the reading level of texts and lists curriculum that may be appropriate for your program.
Another major instructional shift with the Common Core is an increase in what is understood as "text complexity." Teachers and curriculum designers use three measures when determining whether the complexity of a text is appropriate for their students.
First, they use their own professional judgement to consider students' levels of motivation, prior knowledge and experience with the topic as well as the text's connection to the task or assignment.
After this, they engage in a "qualitative" evaluation of the text, assessing the complexity of the purpose, structure, language, and background knowledge demands of a text.
Finally, they will do a "quantitative" evaluation of text complexity, using a computer- or internet-program like Pearson's Reading Maturity Metric or the Lexile Framework that assesses the number of complex vocabulary words and sentences. In the table below, you can see how texts have become more complex for every grade level with the Common Core. Notice in the Reading Maturity column that 6th-8th graders are expected to read texts written between the 7th and 9.5th grade levels. In sum, this table tells us that we need to be using more complex texts for learners that are often above what was considered grade-level appropriate for 6th-8th graders.
If you are selecting texts for your students, you will want to go through the three-step process described above to determine whether they are appropriate for the grade level that you are serving. If you are using a curriculum created by a publishing company, this information explains why texts may seem more difficult or complex in the Common Core era and reveals the process behind their selection.
There is a range of texts being used by the Adolescent Literacy programs in New York City. The list below highlights some reading resources that have been used by some of your colleagues. LightSail ($) ReadWorks GoodReads AfterSchool KidzLit ($)
Reading programs recommended for OST program careful consideration in the Carnegie Corporation's Adolescent Literacy Development in Out-Of-School Time Practitioner's Handbook include:
Again, these resources are listed with caution as they may not provide students with the break from the school day readings and activities that they need and deserve. You will want to ask whether the texts you select will lead to fun and engaging discussion and activities.
If you are looking for a great resource for current events, check out NewsELA, a great free repository of real news articles form national papers that are leveled for each grade level. There are often evidence-based reading questions, writing assignments, and quizzes associated with the readings and you can access a virtual classroom tool with a subscription ($).