Text Complexity

I have DRA, Fountas & Pinnell, and Lexile scores, they all tell me how hard a text is. I start the a book level and then think about my readers. I think about what skills they need to have to read the book I selected with as little support from me as possible. Common Core is all about text complexity. Common core asks students to gain a deeper understanding of text. They need to be able to answer a variety of questions both literal and inferential.  Even Kindergarten students can answer higher order thinking questions. 

Laura Varlas points out in this weeks, Education Update from ASCD, that increasing the complexity of text creates two challenges for teachers: figuring out that the assigned texts are appropriately complex, and helping students handle more difficult reading.

Grant Wiggins, (Understanding by Design), points out "staying true to the demands of standards, without over scaffolding, and in heterogeneous classroom where teachers may have students reading three levels below proficiency." He continues to point out that interventions will need to focus on vocabulary and complicated sentences. This information reminds me of Lori Jamison Rog's, comment on struggling readers in her book "Guiding Readers," that 90% of struggling readers need to work on comprehension strategies. And to trust your assessments and use them to guide your instruction.

How do you increase the complexity of text without over scaffolding? You have to differentiate your instruction.

Differentiation Non-Negotiables
We must
  • Know you content and it should be taught.
  • Respect and respond to ALL learners.
  • Know your instructional strategies and how to use them.
  • Use multiple sources of data to inform decisions.
  • Differentiation is not a set of strategies but a way of thinking about the teaching.
  • Differentiate how students will access core and master core.

Actions to Take
  • Design learning based on task analysis that includes an analysis on what student need to access the instruction plus look at students readiness, background knowledge they bring.
  • Provide sources of information at various reading levels to match the needs of learners.
  • Know where students are going to the need support to access the content.
  • Let students know how they will be graded prior to the beginning of the instruction.
  • Use flexible grouping; this will allow students to work and learn with a variety of classmates. 
  • Gives students both choice and responsibility around learning.
  • Collaborate with colleagues and parents.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What will I do if some students don't learn?
    • What will I do if some students already know what I want them them to learn?
Differentiation is how everyone gets core. Differentiation is how students will access complex text with a deeper level of understanding. I'd love to hear how you differentiate; to support students access to complex texts.

Friday's freebie is "Little Book of Colors" click on the picture to get it. Have a great weekend!

Little Book of Colors


  1. Wow! You have so many awesome, or should I say exceptional resources and information on your blog! I'm your newest follower! I teach ED students.

    Teaching Special Kids

  2. Thank you. I hope you find something that you can use.



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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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