Goldie Locks Principle:
Although I hate to see students struggle, I do think that the signs are necessary to know whether our instruction is Too Easy, Too Hard, or Just Right. Keeping the Goldie Locks Principle in mind applies to so many elements of teaching, and when we are at the Just Right level, students are working at the optimal level for progress.
This great anchor chart provides a great explanation of what reading of each type of book looks like for the student. It simply explains to students how to select “just right” books. Selecting appropriate reading material is a difficult thing to do for many students and honestly for some teachers. We have to know books well to make appropriate recommendations to kids. Sometimes, we don’t make a great match and kids will naturally just put the book down. If it’s too easy, they’ll fly through it (and practice fluency). If it’s too hard, they’ll lose interest (or push on with lower comprehension). This happens occasionally, and that’s not a huge problem if most material hits the child’s “Just Right” level.
Observe and Document:
As I use different materials with students, one important instructional component is what’s observed with kids. I work hard at being attentive to the signs below and record them in my notes as I listen to my kids read (and you must do this one-on-one as all of your kids are reading on their own (whisper reading or silently reading) or on running record forms. Kid watching, taking notes, and monitoring error types help you identify skill weaknesses. Below are the behaviors that I make note of when I am testing, listening to my students, or discussing with them:
- Pointing-At some reading stages, pointing is recommended, but once the student reaches the transitional reader stage, the tracking of print happens with the eyes only. Pointing is a sign for the upper grades that the level of the text is pushing them a bit too much.
- Head Movement-Watch if the child moves his/her head left and right as he/she reads. You can mention and work on this in later lessons, but students do this rather than tracking with eyes.
- Rubbing eyes, hair, or clothing– These are frustration or anxiety signs that the material may be too hard or a sign of fatigue. Reading is hard work, and when children tire, it may be time for a break. Continued body language such as this is a sign the materials too high in level.
- Pleading for Help-I see this normally when I’m checking comprehension. The child looks around the room as if the answer will fall off the wall. (again…frustration sign)
- Fidgeting in Chair-May be sign of fatigue or distraction, but can also be a sign that the child is hitting frustration.
- “Are we done yet?”…”How much longer?”-These questions are an indication that the child is done. Bring things to closure at this point.
- Frequent Rereading-This is important to note because of the impact on fluency and comprehension. If a child returns back repeatedly to get a running start, they lose meaning.