I have this dream. With the advancement of technology, it won’t be long before my dream is realized. A teacher can scan a text and in a matter of seconds there are multiple text complexity levels that match every reader in his or her classroom.
There is no such app as far as I know, so for now teachers have to be creative in providing whole class texts that every student can access at an independent level. There are companies that sell books on the same topic with varying text levels. Not every classroom has access to these text sets, however.
What can be done?
There are some great online services for teachers to use that provide multiple reading level texts so whole classes can read and discuss the same topic. Newsela, Tween Tribune, CommonLit, and Readworks are all sites that offer same topic/multi-level texts.
This week in a sixth grade classroom students will read the same text at their independent reading level. SCOPE magazine (a Scholastic product) featured an article, Blood, Smoke and Freedom by Lauren Tarshis. The two elementary versions published by Scholastic, Storyworks and Storyworks Jr., have the same article in several lower lexile levels.
Copies of Blood, Smoke and Freedom were distributed to every student in the classroom. Each student had opportunity to read the article, make annotations and engage in a discussion with a partner. The teacher is planning to pair this text with a short selection from We Were There, Too by Phillip Hoose.
Because the same problem still exists, we set out to provide shortened versions of the selection by Hoose so that students reading off grade level could read it with ease. Larry Felazzo shared a resource on his website several years ago that will let teachers simplify a text by pasting it into a “text compactor”. We weren’t aware of Rewordify when we planned this unit several weeks ago, but will certainly try it the next time we need a simplified version of a text for students who need it.
Every kid needs the opportunity to read, discuss, write and discover meaning from the texts teachers assign. Until we have a miracle resource that will create multi-levels for all the readers in a classroom, we’ll keep on making good use of the resources mentioned here.