I have spent nearly a week assigning Lexile levels to every book in my classroom library. I am using an iPhone app called Level It (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/level-it-books/id584413429?mt=8) to scan the ISBN bar code on each book. This quick scan produces a grade level equivalency, a lexile number an image of the book and a brief book description. Most books I scanned appeared within the app but if I could not find a Lexile score I used www.lexile.com to look up the book and its information. The Level It app also works on the iPad but I found it to be faster with the iPhone.
There were some books I could not level using either of these methods. This helped me begin to weed books from my library to donate to Good Will. I took six bins of books to Good Will on Saturday. I was so happy they took them!
Once I assigned a level to a book with a sharpie I used colored duct tape to code it as either fiction or non fiction and a specific color to show a general Lexile Level. I learned many things about the Lexile level system as I did this project. The first thing I learned was that I have a lot of books in my classroom library! I also learned that the majority of my books are fiction books in the 400-500 range which is equivalent to second grade. Now my goal will be to add more books to my library to even out my non fiction collection as well as more books at the 100-200 level since that is where my K-1 students are reading.
I was surprised by the low level of some books as well as the high level of others. I was reminded of the training I attended last summer about Lexile numbers. I learned then that a book earns a Lexile score based purely on the number or words and sentences that appear on each page. The actual content of the book is not figured into the Lexile number. I was struck by this in particular as I assigned a lexile score of 660 to the book If You Give a Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numberoff. The grade level equivalency of this score is around 3.7! This is a book students in my class have enjoyed hearing me read to them. My three year old daughter loves it as well. I doubt there are many third graders who would choose it to read on their own though. That is where the Lexile score tells me that the text is easily read by a third grader but may not be an appropriate subject based on interest.
As of this evening, I have Lexile levled all of my picture books and color coded them. They are arranged on the shelves in my classroom in bins marked with the corresponding colored duct tape. Next, I plan to level my chapter book collection and add it to my shelves. While most of my students will not be able to read those books right away, I do have one first grade boy who is reading at the early third grade level and will enjoy having chapter books as an option.
I use The Daily Five and CAFE systems developed by "The Two Sisters" Gail Boushey and Joan Moser for my literacy block.(http://www.thedailycafe.com/public/department104.cfm) Last year, the biggest challenge I faced was getting the students to choose the "Read to Self" station. Many of them piled books into their book bins that were not the appropriate level. I had a hard time finding books to recommend to them since I was not sure of the levels myself. I feel much more comfortable helping students find good fit books now that I have organized my library by Lexile numbers.
I will post photos of my classroom library soon. I still have a trunk full of leveled and color coded picture books to sort and organize at school before school starts!
Check back soon for photos of my classroom as it is ALMOST ready for the first day of School on Tuesday September 3!