How much should we control the level of students’ reading materials?
Neale Pitches, co-author of CSI, writes: “CSI students ‘read beyond their interest and ability levels’ say Hagley High teachers. One challenge for teachers and librarians is how much to control students’ reading choices. In an era of leveled texts and ‘leveled’ students, how literally do we take Lev Vygotsky’s notion of scaffolding and ‘zone of proximal development’? Do we restrict students to texts we believe they can read, thereby restricting their reading experience? I have been concerned for some time about the trend to over-label students according to their reading ‘level’. I know my own reading ‘level’ varies according to three vital factors:
- My interest in the text (and therefore my background knowledge)
- My engagement with the text, (i.e., how much I want to read and apply myself to it)
- The type of text (I’m notoriously troubled by icons in digital texts – unlike 10-year-olds!)
It seems to be the same with students, so I think it’s wrong to limit their access to ‘difficult’ texts, especially if they are struggling readers (or ESL/ELL students). I think CSI shows this. As students encounter the diverse range of nonfiction and fiction in CSI, across the content areas of English, science, mathematics and social studies their interest ‘brightens’ (Kyran Smith’s word, referring to her Miramar South students). Kids like challenge and diversity – so let’s give it to them.
We want your opinion…please.