Monday, November 14, 2011

Thinking About Your Thinking & Locating Lexile Levels

Intentional Naming = Vicarious Learning

A colleague of ours recently shared with me her awe of a first grader who used the word “infer” in context. Take a minute to create a mental image of the scene below.

She was helping another child read a book in front of the class, and she stopped her to ask the class if they could infer what would happen next in the book. She said, "Would anyone like to infer what might happen next?" and she called on lots of kids to share their schema.
While this teacher had not yet formally introduced inferring during her lengthy strategy studies, it was pretty clear that she had heard the word used multiple times in context. During her think alouds while reading, solving math problems, and engaging in science experiments, voiced how her schema and mental images helped her to infer. Real thinking. Said out loud. In context. Because of her teacher’s clear explanations about how the thinking tools helped her understand, the student obviously made meaning of when and how to infer—in order to use the word appropriately in a novel situation (i.e. transfer).

If you work under the assumption that children cannot “handle” hearing about a thinking strategy before you formally introduce it, research encourages you to reconsider. Bandura, a social theorist who studied how people learn proposed, “People learn not only from their own experience but by observing the behaviors of others. This vicarious learning permits individuals to learn a novel behavior without undergoing the trial and error process of performing it.” With that said, if you are looking to increase your students’ vicarious learning about our thinking strategy tools so that they can make meaning and possibly transfer prior to explicit instruction…

Try this strategy- Every time you say the word “thinking” in your classroom (when modeling, thinking aloud, in conversation, when conferring with students, etc.) try to follow-up by intentionally naming the specific thinking strategy you are using (i.e. using schema, inferring, visualizing, determining importance, synthesizing). See what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at the vicarious learning and deeper understanding your students gain related to the thinking strategy tools.

Extra, Extra- Lexile Levels Made Easy!
Looking for a way to find the Lexile levels of those texts you want to get into the hands of your RTI, small groups, and individual readers? Just go to and set up a free account. You can use this site to type in titles, passages, or simply find the appropriate Lexile levels for your readers.

Here is a very quick peek into what might be the most helpful Lexile website.

Lexile Analyzer-The Lexile® measure of text is determined using the Lexile Analyzer®, a software program that evaluates the reading demand—or readability—of books, articles and other materials. The Lexile Analyzer measures the complexity of the text by breaking down the entire piece and studying its characteristics, such as sentence length and word frequency, which represent the syntactic and semantic challenges that the text presents to a reader. The outcome is the text complexity, expressed as a Lexile measure, along with information on the word count, mean sentence length and mean log frequency.

Request a Lexile Measure for a Book-You can use this form to request that books be added to our list of Lexile measures. Please fill out the form with as much information as you can. You must supply the Title, Author, and Publisher. Submitting a book is no guarantee that it will be added to our list of Lexile measures. A publisher must ultimately add the book to their request, but submissions from this form can help get a book included.

Find a Book- Allows you to type in grade or Lexile level to generate a list of texts.

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