Do you guys ever feel like you are holding back? As in not telling everything? I do. Man I write and write and then I edit, edit, edit. I don't want anyone to see my flaws. I really don't. But this year I've been working on being transparent. It's been hard and I am by no way as transparent as I wish I could be. I'm a stuffer.. you know something happens that you have an emotional response to and you stuff it way down so that no one sees. My stuffing is usually negative in nature. That is usually I am stuffing the stuff that would show my flaws or don't paint a cheery picture. If you are a stuffer then you know what the inevitable response is, right? You volcano!
Yep... only it's not a cat controlling things, it's all that stuff you stuffed way down. It will come up. So like the great stuffers before me I have learned to cope, manage, hide the real truth. Hince the word for the year being transparent. And I still feel like I've not said or been transparent enough. So I'm still working on that.
My confession today is that I want to bring things to TPT for teachers to use. I get caught in that stuffing cycle every time I bring out something new. UGH! In December I put together a set of Easy Readers that I use in my room. And I gave it to our reading recovery teacher and a first grade teacher with a struggling reader. They both loved them. But I still couldn't get the set posted. I worried that people would disagree with my "leveling" of the books. Or not be happy or worse yet, not be able to use them at all. So I procrastinated. And I got them up really late in December. I am currently working on January's set. Which made me think, you really should share what these are. Be transparent.
So here I am.... let me introduce you to my product and tell you why I made it. First let me get my disclaimer out of the way, I am not the be all end all text leveler. I am sure that some of these are too easy or too hard for the levels. I firmly believe that kids don't fit neatly into a level either! Yep, I love readers but at the same time, I struggle to get my kids to fit a level ___ perfectly. Sometimes they are too easy and sometimes they are too hard. Also my word choices fit my kids. I'm in an inner city, title 1, 100% free lunch school. Oh and we are in Arkansas. We are southern, and we probably sound funny to outsiders, but the language in the books tends to follow us.
Disclaimer over! Now lets break this down. I know that many of my team mates and teachers in my school wondered why I was going to all the trouble to create readers when our school has a book room. I love our book room. Lots of great titles in sets of 6. Yep, sets of 6. So what happens when you want to use a reader with 8 children who are on the same level? You don't right? Or at the very least that book doesn't get into their book box. That is the first reason. I HATE working harder. I don't want to split those 8 children in to 2 different books because that is more work for me. If I make my own readers then I can make as many copies as I want, right?
The second reason that I don't like using book room readers is that we can't write in them. There is zero buy in for my students. I like to use dots for my bless their hearts learners who are still struggling with one to one correspondence. I have no way to add those dots to the store bought readers. This is what I am talking about... this is a page from my reader Santa's Coming level a reader.
One more thing about my reading groups... the word work is NEVER centered on the book. I was told in some state training one year that your book should have the word work feature in it. Really???? I cringe every time I think about this! I never never never tie my word work to a book, well not intentionally. If we happen on something that goes with our word work that is gravy! I do have a set of book that have rhyming families in them and we use those to decode words and they are the exception to my never.
Let's take a look at the reindeer page across the readers.
Level A is first, Level 1 without dots, Level 2
I really love how these address the nosy rosy kids who want to be in other groups because they want to have all the books. Now everyone appears, at the cover level, to have the same book. But when you get into the text the kids are getting what they need. You might not have this same problem. You might be looking for a way to stretch 6 books into 8. Or you might want bigger buy in. Or you might not have a well stocked lover level book room.
Oh and here is "bonus" in all of this!! I can send these books home for the kids to KEEP!!! Yep that gets me excited over and over again. I can actually use them in my room and then send them home for the kids to keep forever! One of the first grade teachers at my school told me that one of my students had said that the only books that she has at home to read were Ms. Day's books. Think about that!! Title 1 school, kids who don't have access to many books, and they kept what we had worked with all year long! Melted my heart.
So there you have it, confessions from a stuffing volcano and my newest project. I really want each of you to be able to use these books in your rooms! I want to bless your students with a library that is theirs! Oh and if you are limited on paper to make books, I would like to suggest Donors Choose as a way to get that paper!!