This month's Teaching Tip comes from Differentiated Nonfiction Reading Grade 2.
If you are like most teachers, your classroom includes a wide variety of students: average students, English language learners, gifted students, and learning disabled students. You may be expected to get your diverse student population, including special education students and those for whom English is a second language, to master grade-level, content-area material. That's a challenging task and one that requires grade-level, content-area materials written at several levels. Differentiated Nonfiction Reading was written specifically to help you respond to the demands of your state and local standards while meeting the needs of your students.
Each passage in Differentiated Nonfiction Reading covers a grade-level appropriate curriculum topic in science, geography, history, or language arts. The Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) standard and benchmark related to each passage is listed on pages 9-12.
Each content-area passage is written at three different levels: easy (below grade level), average (at grade level), and challenging (above grade level). After each passage is a set of comprehension questions that all of your students will answer. This enables your students to access the text and concepts at their instructional--rather than frustration--level, while requiring them to meet objective standards, just as they must do on standardized assessments.
You can prepare your students to read the passages in Differentiated Nonfiction Reading by daily reading aloud a short nonfiction selection from another source. Reading content-area text aloud is critical to developing your students' ability to read it themselves.
Discussing content-area concepts with your class is also very important. Remember, however, that discussion can never replace reading aloud since people do not speak using the vocabulary and complex sentence structures of written language.
All of the passages in Differentiated Nonfiction Reading have a reading level that has been calculated by the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula. This formula, built into Microsoft Word, determines a text's readability by calculating the number of words, syllables, and sentences.
Each passage is presented at three levels: easy, average, and challenging. Easy is below second-grade level; average is at second-grade level; and challenging is above second-grade level. The chart on page 13 shows you the specific reading levels of every passage.
To ensure that only you know the reading level at which each student is working, the levels are not printed on the passages. Instead, at the top of the page is a set of books with a specific pattern that will allow you to quickly match students and passages (see accompanying PDF for chart).
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