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    #177418 - 12/17/13 05:47 AM Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school
    mayasmom Offline

    Registered: 08/30/13
    Posts: 50
    My DD6 is at a charter school. Overall, we love it, and we do feel in many ways it is the right environment for her. The school follow's Ernest Boyer's Basic School philosophy. Focus on building a strong school community, meeting every child on their own level, strong music and arts (which is DD"s passion) program, etc.

    For DD's personality and comfort level, the school is a great fit. The verdict is still out on the academic aspect. They definitely meet the needs of kids who are special needs or academically delayed. Not sure about meeting the needs for gifted kids yet.

    One area that I don't know how to tackle is the school policy that kids can only read picture books at school in K and 1st. I understand the theory behind it (that picture books can contain much more complexity than early chapter books), and the school does not do AR or any other kind of leveled reader.

    For a while I was okay with it; after the first parent-teacher conference I got the impression that differentiation was happening with DD, at least as far as reading was concerned. Her teacher isn't doing any fluency work with her (she is already a fluent reader, and her teacher recognized that right away); instead she is working on helping DD pull out the deeper meaning from stories, abstract concepts and vocabulary. We were told that she is having DD read 2nd grade level picture books for this purpose, even though her actual reading level is quite a bit higher. One example she gave was having a Puss in Boots picture book, and new vocabulary DD learned, such as "miller".

    However, I think that is slipping, and I can't imagine limiting DD to picture books for another 1 1/2 years. The school loops, and she will have the same teacher (and same classroom library) next year as well.

    Is this a battle worth tackling, since it is a school-wide policy, not just teacher specific? I have thought about asking for subject acceleration. I honestly don't know if I should rock the boat, or just leave things be. DD seems happy to read anything, whether it is Curious George, the back of a cereal box, or Barack Obama's memoir hanging out on my bookshelf. laugh She is not the kind of child to complain, but she has asked why certain books aren't in her classroom (Charlotte's Web, Magic Treehouse, Judy I said, my child reads books at all kinds of levels!).

    #177422 - 12/17/13 06:06 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    ultramarina Offline

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    My DS is in K, and while he has access to the whole library (note--we had to request this) and therefore can free read chapter books of his choice doing free reading/free choice time, I think there isn't a ton of this time during the day. I know it does happen occasionally, and I'm glad, but it's not a huge part of his school life. In his reading group, they are definitely not doing chapter books, although he is now going to 1st for reading. There isn't anyone else at his level who is ready for it.

    There really are some high-level picture books out there and one COULD do some nice small group work with them in K and 1, especially given time constraints. My DD worked with hard picture books in K in a small group and it was okay. What concerns me more about your situation is the adherence to dogma, which is never a good sign, IMO. I don't know this philosophy, but it sounds like it might not be good for gifted kids--smacks a bit of Waldorf in the sense of "They are all ready for X at Y age and not before."

    #177427 - 12/17/13 06:18 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: ultramarina]
    mayasmom Offline

    Registered: 08/30/13
    Posts: 50
    lol, you're having the same reaction I have. I just didn't want to use the word dogma.

    The picture book policy, as far as I am aware, is not "Basic School philosophy". I've read Ernest Boyer's book, and do stand behind the ideas, if they are done correctly. I'm not sure where the picture book thing came in to play, especially since "meet every child at their own level" IS Basic School philosophy! The teacher has essentially said that the school can meet my daughter at her level with higher level picture books. Which they can, and did, for the first part of the year until about November. Maybe it is just winter doldrums? And I can tell they have worked with her on pacing (she's become much better at reading aloud, beforehand she would rush through so quickly you couldn't understand a word she said...she is a very, very fast reader).

    I have requested a meeting with the administrator for early January, and will probably bring it up then, along with subject acceleration.

    #177429 - 12/17/13 06:25 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    Sweetie Offline

    Registered: 06/05/11
    Posts: 669
    I volunteer at a library where every book has a grade level sticker on it. I'll look today for some titles of fifth grade level picture books if that will help. Many picture books are high level because they are intended to be read alouds and not read by beginning readers.
    ...reading is pleasure, not just something teachers make you do in school.~B. Cleary

    #177433 - 12/17/13 07:18 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    Irena Offline

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 1733
    No advice but, personally, I think it's a really bad policy ... And it definitely wouldn't work for us!

    #177437 - 12/17/13 08:15 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    ellemenope Offline

    Registered: 03/16/11
    Posts: 155
    I don't think I would have a problem with this. It actually sounds like a great language arts program. I recall reading picture books (excerpts within the language arts textbook) up through middle school.

    #177439 - 12/17/13 08:48 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    ashley Offline

    Registered: 03/26/12
    Posts: 639
    I would definitely ask for acceleration and also send in books at my child's level if the school does not provide them. In DS's K school last year (changed to a different school this year for 1st grade) - I went in and requested the librarian to allow DS to check out books at the 3rd and 4th grader level because he was mostly reading non-fiction at that time and there were not much of it available at the K level and he was getting highly frustrated with the available book choices. She did a mini-interview with DS right there to see what he knew and what his interets were and immediately agreed that he could check out books of his choice. The same was the case with his teacher - she just upped his reading level and formed a reading group that fitted his level.
    I see no harm in asking - what have you go to lose?

    Edited by ashley (12/17/13 08:48 AM)

    #177442 - 12/17/13 09:21 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: Sweetie]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4957
    Originally Posted By: Sweetie
    I volunteer at a library where every book has a grade level sticker on it. I'll look today for some titles of fifth grade level picture books if that will help. Many picture books are high level because they are intended to be read alouds and not read by beginning readers.
    So glad you shared this. It made me curious so I did a quick websearch on "high level picture book".

    One of the results was a 2009 crowd sourced list on a public forum in response to a post from a teacher with a need for fifth grade high level picture books. A 2012 thread on that public forum crowd sourced an even larger list of favorite fifth grade picture books and authors.

    Booksource has a list of 10 level Q picture books.

    Using the Scholastic book wizard yielded 4 more titles. Scholastic thoughtfully posts the interest level and grade level equivalent for each. This is an amazing free search tool.

    Using Picture Storybooks to Teach Literary Devices may also be of interest.

    After looking at some of these higher level picture books, my own personal view on the reading policy described by the OP is that as long as the students are encouraged to read other self-selected books on their own, it may be great to have a teacher helping kids with big concepts and new vocabulary introduced by picture books. There are different kinds of reading for different purposes. A very engaging, suspenseful story may have children reading eagerly and skipping over words they don't know. Higher level picture books may keep kids on a page a bit longer and encourage taking a break to look up new vocabulary words and engage in book discussion, developing habits of reading which they'll need later on.

    Once kiddos are routinely looking up words and discussing/analyzing/processing what they read, they may want a book club or discussion group for other books to encourage continued growth in reading. This may be something the OP may wish to advocate for? If the school does not have a book club (or create one in response to parental request), interested parents may wish to visit a local library or bookstore to see what they may have or be willing to create.

    #177443 - 12/17/13 09:29 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    mnmom23 Offline

    Registered: 09/11/09
    Posts: 701
    I think that you should try to work within the school's philosophy at this point, since, in general, you are quite happy with the school. What I would suggest doing is meeting with the teacher to see if you can just work on moving up the level of picture books (and encourage her to read chapter books on her own at home).

    Here are a couple of links to teacher discussions of good 4th and 5th grade level picture books:

    Perhaps you can see if the librarian or teacher can look for some of these books to see if they are already in the school or classroom library, or you can see if your local library has some of these that she can bring in with the teacher's approval. I do think you would need teacher buy-in, though, because you would be looking to have the teacher have higher level discussions with your daughter. I actually think an in-depth analysis of each book would be a great way to help your daughter start analyzing text in a way that will eventually (in several years) be important when she has to start writing papers on books she has read.
    She thought she could, so she did.

    #177445 - 12/17/13 10:28 AM Re: Only picture books allowed in K/1st at DD's school [Re: mayasmom]
    momoftwins Offline

    Registered: 03/27/13
    Posts: 156
    I don't think it is a problem. Just because a book is a "picture book" doesn't mean it isn't well written, or at a high enough reading level. There are some very high level picture books available. Personally, I have found that my twins (first grade) enjoy reading picture books more than chapter books, partially because they have pictures and because they can be read in one-sitting.

    For school purposes, I can completely understand why they would want the students reading picture books in K & 1. It sounds like the teacher is working on higher-level reading analysis skills with your daughter. My understanding is the next step is usually for the child to write the answers to the type of questions that your teacher is discussing with her now regarding the stories.

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