PDA

View Full Version : Lexiles and Reality



bcnlvr
11-09-2011, 03:05 PM
I went to Lexile (http://www.lexile.com), where you can get titles based on your child's age and reading level. I want to claw my eyes out right now. :explode:

Can I just vent as to how frustrating this is? The "appropriate" books either are "boring" or scare him off (his words...font size maybe?) or aren't appropriate for a 9-year-old boy. His pleasure books are in the 4th-5th grade range (he picks them).

Anyway, I came across The Five Finger Rule (http://web.mac.com/rachelalisonk/bglibrary/Five_Finger_Rule.html) and I am pretty excited about it. Lexiles....fugeddaboutit. I am all about utility! Maybe this link is useful for others, too.

Gabriela
11-09-2011, 03:13 PM
I like the Five Finger Rule. It's happened to us several times that we buy a book (of his choice), and when he starts reading it, has to ask me the meaning of a word every three sentences. I really wanted him to start the Narnia books this year (I read them at his age), but he's just not ready yet. Maybe this will help to not keep buying books that are too advanced.

Staysee34
11-09-2011, 03:43 PM
I've never heard of the Five Finger Rule but I'm glad you passed along the link. It will come in very handy when we do our library trips. My girls are always choosing books way beyond their reading levels. I don't stop them but I would like them to at least get one book they can actually read. This should help. Thanks.

Mum
11-10-2011, 12:20 AM
Thanks for the link. That's a much easier rule of thumb than looking at the reading level listed on the book and trying to decide whether or not it's too advanced.

LovingMyChildren
11-10-2011, 09:41 AM
Interesting! I like the simplicity. I've been looking up grade level in the www.arbookfind.com site for every book we've read. My daughter's ability to enjoy the book and even read it has very little to do with the grade level. Some 2nd grade books she has trouble with but I only have hypotheses about why (font size? few pictures make it scary?) but other 4th grade books she does fine with. Go figure. I think I'll give this a try. Thanks!

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-10-2011, 10:32 AM
My son's school had the five finger rule posted in the library. I think it works great. The only problem is getting my kids to read out loud to me--either they just don't want to read the book at all or they want the "privacy" of reading the book to themselves.

dbmamaz
11-10-2011, 11:27 AM
Hmm, I finally looked. Raven mostly reads comic books like Garfield. He's been reading some others that we happened to have, too. But there are WAYmore than 5 words he doesnt know on a page. But he enjoys it and his reading is improved. So whats wring with that? Why should there be a rule that you aren't allowed to read books with words you don't know? Maybe it will help motivate them to improve their vocabulary?

Jilly
11-10-2011, 11:45 AM
Hmm, I finally looked. Raven mostly reads comic books like Garfield. He's been reading some others that we happened to have, too. But there are WAYmore than 5 words he doesnt know on a page. But he enjoys it and his reading is improved. So whats wring with that? Why should there be a rule that you aren't allowed to read books with words you don't know? Maybe it will help motivate them to improve their vocabulary?

I would have to agree. It seems very limiting.

farrarwilliams
11-10-2011, 12:05 PM
I've heard about this rule before - it's an old librarian trick, I think.

I have a negative reaction to lexile levels. Part of it is that what they don't measure is often more important than what they do. They don't measure emotional content, for one thing. And I'm pretty sure they also weigh sentence structure more heavily than vocabulary level, which I think can be a problem. When I first heard about them, I looked up a few things and found that (I think... maybe I'm misremembering the specific books) Twilight was significantly higher than Of Mice and Men. Is that because it has such poor grammar and is therefore harder for the computer to read??? Ugh. I also know that in some schools now, kids are NOT ALLOWED to read below their lexile level. So a kid reading high enough would be allowed to do Twilight but not Of Mice and Men. WRONG, WRONG, so obviously and deeply wrong, right?

I mean, I see that they're useful and good as a guideline though. So, in that sense, I think they're good. But I think its best used backwards. In other words, I think browsing books at your kid's lexile levels is probably a bad idea (reading level does not equal appropriate). On the other hand, having some recommendations and checking their lexile levels might be.

farrarwilliams
11-10-2011, 12:10 PM
Hmm, I finally looked. Raven mostly reads comic books like Garfield. He's been reading some others that we happened to have, too. But there are WAYmore than 5 words he doesnt know on a page. But he enjoys it and his reading is improved. So whats wring with that? Why should there be a rule that you aren't allowed to read books with words you don't know? Maybe it will help motivate them to improve their vocabulary?

Okay, I basically agree with you, but I'll play devil's advocate for your question. Someone who really believes in the 5 finger rule would say that it's beyond his frustration level and therefore he's not likely to use it to improve his vocabulary or reading. He's more likely to just skip those words. And if that's the case, then you're basically creating a kid who's not a close reader, who thinks it's okay to just skip words instead of reading them - and that's a habit you don't want to carry forward as a reader.

So I would fall somewhere in between. I don't believe in taking books away from kids - not even books they can't read. But I also think it's important that kids have a variety - that they have books that pass a no finger rule, where they can read every single word in the first page or so, in order to build fluency and confidence. And that they also need books that pass the rule as posed by Bacon, and that, if they're interested, they can look at and enjoy any other books as well. Does that make sense?

bcnlvr
11-10-2011, 12:26 PM
Ds10's lexile is very high, but he can't comprehend out of a paper bag. I don't have ALL DAY for him to pick out books at the library (yes, he will take 3 hours). What we normally do is get 5 books and get them home and THEN see if they work out. I have tried databases, lists, etc to try to successfully pick books...no go. Subject matter is another problem. I don't think he is ready for Harry Potter, Wimpy Kid, etc. He just turned 10 and there are some themes in there than can wait a couple years (they are over his head or too intense right now).

The rule says that even if 4 fingers are raised (ie moderately difficult for the reader), then it is a keeper. I didn't read it as all or nothing. I think NO fingers is too easy and we will try looking for books with 3-4 fingers. (yes, Farrar said all this ALREADY...blah blah blah). But I have to nod and repeat what she says, it's our rule. lol

Anyway, we'll give it a try and report back......

dbmamaz
11-10-2011, 02:28 PM
Yeah, that makes sense . . . its funny, tho, cuz dh keeps insisting that skipping a few words (or pronouncing them wrong) doesnt affect comprehension . . . he was an avid reader, i mean on the verge of obsessive, so I dont want to discount his input. I also wonder if it depends on the kind of learner. Remember, Raven refused to let me teach him for the first 2 years, and still sometimes gets angry if i show him something he doesnt get. I remember learning words through context by reading books above my level and antiquated . . tho sometimes I was wrong. And certainly had the experience of mispronouncing words becuase I learned them from reading. I dont think Raven will ever be a lit major, really, but i suppose i could be wrong. and really, Orion suprises me by the words he doesnt know, so I know he is NOT picking up as much meaning from reading as I woudl expect. We might start the 'write down words you dont know' thing with Orion soon, as soon as we finish up our MCT vocab. Oh, wait, i have the next level vocab book already. I forgot lol

Airen
11-10-2011, 04:15 PM
And English has silly pronunciation. You know a gas gauge? To this day, I say "gawge" because it's an "au" I simply cannot break the habit....

farrarwilliams
11-10-2011, 04:21 PM
Okay, I'm only doing this to push you a little, Bacon, but do you ever put down a book that you know all the words on the first page or so in because it's clearly beneath you? At some point, a good reader will hit that level and the five finger rule of not knowing a word or two at least will be really weird, right? I think there are lots of goals for reading and if the main one is to increase comprehension and ability to analyze, then I would think you would want a child really reading at a complete comfort level, not at a level where they're struggling to decode words or learn new vocabulary on every single page. Of course, you could have a different goal by reading with new words. And most kids can probably walk and chew gum at the same time.

Again, mostly just playing devil's advocate (like Cara's husband, I also am an avid reading who has been known to skim and skip words), but I think skipping words may be really bad for kids. It may be really discouraging too for kids to think, that's just how it is, you just have to skip the words sometimes and try to figure it out. I think skipping words does effect comprehension. It's hard for me to think that it wouldn't.

gidamom
11-10-2011, 05:35 PM
I have the problem that my kids are excellent readers, with very high Lexile levels for their ages and great comprehension and anlytical skills. However, they many times ask to read books that are appropriate for their age and/or interests, but CLEARLY below their reading level...so should I NOT let them read them?? I have chosen to let them read, becasue at least they're reading??

dbmamaz
11-10-2011, 05:40 PM
You just have to decide what your goals are. First of all, if you want to encourage life-long readers, by all means let them read for pleasure without limits. If you want to use every book as an educational experience, you could ask them to do a breif description or analysis of some sort of every book. If you want them reading only as a means to increase vocab and comprehension, well, you might risk sucking the joy out of it. I think i've seen several programs suggest that students should be reading 1 'literature' book, other books for history and science and whatever else, plus at least one 'free reading' book at all times. I always assumed the free reading was without any imposed limits.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-10-2011, 05:50 PM
Okay, I'm only doing this to push you a little, Bacon, but do you ever put down a book that you know all the words on the first page or so in because it's clearly beneath you? At some point, a good reader will hit that level and the five finger rule of not knowing a word or two at least will be really weird, right? I think there are lots of goals for reading and if the main one is to increase comprehension and ability to analyze, then I would think you would want a child really reading at a complete comfort level, not at a level where they're struggling to decode words or learn new vocabulary on every single page. Of course, you could have a different goal by reading with new words. And most kids can probably walk and chew gum at the same time.

I let my kids read books that are too "easy" for them, but also nudge them toward more difficult books. I use the Five Finger Rule to find books that will challenge them a little and help them progress in their reading skills.

The Five Finger Rule is probably only useful for elementary students within the category of elementary-age books. It will help you decide between Magic Tree House and Roald Dahl for your seven-year-old, but it won't tell you if your kid is ready for the content of middle-grade or YA books.

My problem with my son is high level of vocabulary and comprehension but short attention span. Every once in a while a longer book will hold his attention, but more often than not I find him flipping through and reading at random. If I had a penny for every time I said, "Start at the beginning!"...

bcnlvr
11-10-2011, 06:05 PM
What A.M.M said! (can I do that?!) :) Ds10 reading ANYTHING AT ALL is great. I want to start (academically) at a level that is *easier* for him so that we can learn basic comprehension and OTHER skills that I want him to learn from reading. Not that I want to jump into lit analysis (but would like to some day), but at least be able to have socratic discussion instead of "I don't know" to "Who is the narrator of this story?" (groan!!!)

crunchynerd
11-10-2011, 08:29 PM
That's ok, my sister, as a kid, went around saying "Mat-a-MOY-sel!" til someone figured out she had encountered the French term for 'a lady' in a book. LOL


And English has silly pronunciation. You know a gas gauge? To this day, I say "gawge" because it's an "au" I simply cannot break the habit....

zcat
11-11-2011, 08:37 AM
I see the five finger guideline could be helpful in a library for your child to select books for themselves if they get frustrated or tend to skip words they do not know.
I would not tell my dd that she could not read a book with words she doesn't know if she is interested in it.
I think it is good to have more than one system to guide book choices. If my dd tends to enjoy books that are a certain reading level that gives us an area to start looking in at least.

bcnlvr
11-11-2011, 08:59 AM
Can I say that this forum is awesome? I love that we can look at all the facets of something. It really helps get to the good, the bad, and the ugly (and that's not just a great movie!!). :)

Pefa
11-19-2011, 06:29 PM
That's ok, my sister, as a kid, went around saying "Mat-a-MOY-sel!" til someone figured out she had encountered the French term for 'a lady' in a book. LOL

ES and B1 are both sight readers, so they mispronounce a lot of words. Mostly they figured out meaning from context and just remembered that if a word "looked" a certain way it meant whatever it meant (ie, ES was reading a Redwall book when he was 6 and ran across the word scimitar. He figured it was a sword like weapon from the context and didn't worry about the specific until he took a break from reading and came to ask me if he was right. Took me awhile to figure out what he was trying to say though.)

Avalon
11-20-2011, 11:43 PM
I am beginning to realize how lucky I am that both of my kids read widely and voraciously. They read so much that they manage to cover plenty of fiction, non-fiction, above and below their reading level. They encounter plenty of words they don't know, and probably figure them out from context, since they both have fabulous vocabularies that *I* didn't teach them! That's how I learned most words, because nobody ever supervising my reading choices when I was growing up.

I do find that my son skips words he doesn't know, and I'd like to help him work on sounding out words, but I wouldn't say I'm worried about it. I think I did a fair bit of skimming and skipping myself. Actually, I'm more likely to look up a word now than when I was a kid, because my Kindle has a built-in dictionary.

theWeedyRoad
11-21-2011, 06:10 AM
I am currently at a place where I doubt how much worth those things even have, honestly.

A few weeks ago, dd was struggling through the book she had chosen to read to me. Too many really huge words. Our next phonics lesson was with multisyllable words, and we spent a week just picking out the phenomes and digraphs that she knows, breaking up syllables, and finally reading them. She wasn't fast or perfect at it, but she did ok and we moved on. Back to the crazy-hard book.. and I think she jumped several levels JUST by going through those lessons. Still hard, but she was looking at the word for breaks on her own, and looking ahead for the letter combinations. Did she gain new reading skills in that week? Not really, since we had only used the ones she knew. I just taught her to skim ahead enough to take in more of the word at a time (instead of one letter... one letter... one letter). I think she worked on fluency more than actual reading skills that week, but it *appeared* that she had gained skills.

Not sure if that even made sense... just brought more profoundly to my attention that it's all the stupid bits and pieces that go into reading that really hike up the level... almost as much as just knowing letter/combination sounds. AND her confidence with bigger words grew- again making it look like she could do more even though in reality she had the exact same skill set (I taught her a new way of looking at big words, true, but no actual new sounds).

Brittaya
11-22-2011, 04:19 PM
When I was a kid I read a lot, and instead of asking someone for help when I didn't understand a word, my mom bought me a thesaurus and a dictionary and that's how I figured things out. Also when I had finished all my novels during free reading time at school I'd just start reading my thesaurus or the dictionary.. I know I am super weird. Oh even better was the encyclopedia if I was done with my dictionary. Oddly enough now I know the roots if most words, makes it super easy to decipher new words.