Winter Break in most districts are coming to an end. Teachers and students have had time to relax and recharge with families and friends, and it’s now time to return to the classroom with a mindset (hopefully) of forging ahead to accomplish goals during the second half of the year. The beginning of second semester often times is a time for re-establishing classroom rules, procedures and expectations. It’s also a time to conduct benchmark assessing to analyze growth in students and to define instruction and interventions. All this is important. But, please, let us not forget the importance of re-visiting how to choose good-fit books.
Finding good-fit books is typically hit hard at the beginning of the year, but not always so hard in January. After conducting benchmark assessments, it is imperative that you share with students how their reading levels have changed and whether that impacts the types of books they are choosing. The most recent research and advice from Richard Allington suggests that good-fit books are defined as those where students can read with 99 percent accuracy. That percentage used to be 95 percent. The bottom line is that in teaching good-fit books we must continuously teach students that independent books needs to be read with a high level of accuracy. This may mean they don’t yet get to read that popular book that everyone is reading. (Though they could always read a books like that with their parents or adult at home).
One of the biggest factors in a student’s overall achievement is amount of reading the child engages in. Along with the five components of reading, assessing and providing interventions, we must teach students how to find good-fit books so that their independent reading time is engaging and their books are at their independent reading level. That means we make time in our day to teach this. Curriculum is why we are at school, but there are things beyond the curriculum that is imperative to teach. Good-fit books instruction is one of those.