Standards-Based Text Sets
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Student Lexile-Measurement Software

Student Lexile-Measurement Software | Standards-Based Text Sets |

This is the section of Scholastic's website introducing the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) software.  I've worked extensively with this software in the past, and it can do some pretty great stuff.  


With the software, you can simultaneously measure the lexile score of as many different students as you have computers.  The test takes between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on various factors, and the questions on the assessment are tailored to the interests of the student at the outset of the test.  While the ideal setting is testing 10-12 students at a time, as thias size group makes monitoring their engagement and effort a little easier, I've tested groups as large as 25 kids split in 2 different rooms all at once.  Pretty amazing.


The system can be based off an on-site server, or hosted remotely through the internet.  It does cost money, but the cost is not prohibitive.


The system can also do things such as track the progress of an individual student throughout the year, as well as track entire classes, or the progress of specified groups (nod to NCLB).  


After each student completes the assessment, they are able to log into a database that can recommend appropriately leveled texts according to their interests.  Overall, just a really great resource if your school has the cash to invest.

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Georgia's 'Text Appropriateness' Point System

Georgia's 'Text Appropriateness' Point System | Standards-Based Text Sets |

This is a page that is taken from a a database of resources compiled by the Georgia Board of Education to assist teachers in aligning their practice to the CCSS.  The database has rubrics and documents specific to each grade level, and would be worth a perusal.  There is even a webinar for each grade level.  It is clear that Georgia is taking CCSS alignment pretty seriously.


However, the document that seemed to be most perinent for my quest in better understanding the process of creating multi-leveled, multi-genre text sets is the text complexity rubric.  Basically, the state of Georgia has created a framework by which an educator can look use this worksheet-like checklist evaluate the appropriateness of a text for a specific class or student.  The document even creates a point value for each facet of 'text appropriateness.'  The goal is to find a text that is awarded as close to 100 points as possible, with anything over 80 points being considered an "Extremely Appropriate Text Choice."


I actually think the concept is a bit silly.  The thought that an educator would be expected to fill out an entire worksheet assigning these point values simply to match a text to a reader seems unrealistic.  However, the document can serve to deepen understanding of the mental processes a teacher should go through when determining what text might be best for his/her students.


One section that is particularly helpful is the section on Lexile leveling, which details what lexile levels are generally associated with which grade level.  The levels are listed as follows:

K-1 n/a

2-3 450L - 790L

4-5 770L - 980L

6-8 955L - 1155L

9-10 1080L - 1305L

11-12 1215L - 1355L


All in all, another good resource for deepening understanding of choosing texts, but not so comprehensive as to make the rubric the sole basis for selecting texts.  The other rubric provided in a separate 'scooped entry' is probably a better resource to that effect.

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The NYCDOE Beginner's Guide to Text Complexity

The website that I have 'scooped' is of no importance whastoever.  It is simply the search engine of the NYCDOE web portal, with the terms 'Beginner Text Complexity types into the serch box.  However, the fist result that comes up is a downloadable document that is HUGELY helpful in understanding text complexity.


A Beginner's Guide to Text Complexity was put out by the NYCDOE's Literacy pilot program, and is a part of the effort to move educators towards the CCSS-dictated standards for grade-appropriate texts.


The first few pages of the document should be nothing new to eduactors who are well versed in the Common Core.  However, atrting on page 8, the guide has several pages that explicitly break down the process of analyzing a text for level of complexity.  The guide analyzes "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak as well as an Informational text from a scintific journal.  


The text complexity rubric that is used in these pages is provided through one of the other sites that I have 'scooped.'


I beleive that this site, combined with a good understanding of the text complexity rubric, will better equip any educator to determine which texts are approprite for both struggling and advanced readers, as well as the entire spectrum in between.



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Teaching Multicultural Literature: Text Sets

Teaching Multicultural Literature: Text Sets | Standards-Based Text Sets |

This page is taken from a website that serves as an 'online workshop' focused on teaching multicultural literature, and fits into a larger framwework.  The worshop was found on a larger site called the Annenberg Learner.  According to that site's home page:

"[The] Annenberg Learner uses media and telecommunications to advance excellent teaching in American schools. This mandate is carried out chiefly by the funding and broad distribution of educational video programs with coordinated Web and print materials for the professional development of K-12 teachers."


I thought that the section on text sets would be helpful in developing a new system of text sets for a classroom.  I found the focus on multiculturalism to be an aspect that I hadn't fully considered, at least to the extent that Kathryn Mitchell Pierce did when creating her unit and the resulting 'online workshop.'


The section I found most helpful was when the site quotes teacher educator Jerome Harste as he discusses the importance of multiple perspectives in text sets.  The section goes as follows:

"For an immigration study like Pierce's, for instance, he suggests asking, "What would a psychologist want us to know about immigration? What would a geographer want us to know? A sociologist? An anthropologist?" Teachers can add other perspectives. For instance, in thinking about immigration, how might the perspectives of a mother, a sister, and a daughter differ? Teachers should ask themselves: "Whose story isn't being represented in the materials I've found? How can I add this voice/perspective?""


Considering multiple perspectives and examining how point-of-view and author's purpose influence writing are major components of the CCSS, so I found this discussion to be extremely helpful in developing my thinking about what is important when creating text sets.

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Curriculum and Lesson Plan Outlines for Introducing Text Sets

Curriculum and Lesson Plan Outlines for Introducing Text Sets | Standards-Based Text Sets |

Here I have 'Scooped' a framework for a mini-unit on introducing and using text sets in an English classroom.  I serves as a good starting point, as it has included Standards covered, considerations for resources and preparation, as well as the layout/sequence of instruction.  


However, as is the case with most pre-written lessons and curriculum I have encountered, there also appears to be the potential for gaps in instruction if the lesson sequence were followed without proper modification.


Most pre-written lesson plans and units I have encountered seem to make certain assumptions about students arriving to the lesson with certain competencies which many students I have encountered do not possess.  


For example, the second lesson outlines the process of students beginning to add to the basis teacher-created text-sets by searching out materials on their own.  However, this is reduced to a single step, with huge assumptions made about the capacities of the student.  The step is as follows:

Share the initial resources you've gathered with students and invite them to participate in the collecting. Free time to explore and collect resources in the library as well as using Internet resources is ideal during this class session.


Such a breezy description of this process does not properly acknowledge the many complex and discrete skills that are all lumped into a single step.  I have listed below a short list of skills and protocols that, off the top of my head, I quickly realize as student would need in order to succesfully complete this task:

-How to move from assigned seat into group seating for text-set groups.

-How to obtain text sets and distribute texts in an orderly and equitable manner

-How to take note of what specific aspects of a text make it a interesting and useful.

-Expectations and Protocols for text-collection 'free time'

-How to use prior knowledge to guide research focus

-How to use questions about the topic to create guiding research questions

-Understanding the advantages and disadvantages for Internet vs. library-based reserahc, and which form of research might be better suited to specific topics

-How to use key words and phrases to conduct internet research

-How to evaluate both print and electronic sources for reliability

-How to use the Dewey decimal system to find texts on specific topics

-How to use an index to navigate through large books in order to evaluate relevance.


So, as we see, what may have been a 5-day mini-unit for Kathy Egawa's class in Seattle may actually need an entire month dedicated in another classroom in order to acheive similar results.  It all deends on the capacities that the students bring to the table, and what skills or protocols may need to be pre-taught, as well as the objectives that make the most sense for your classroom and your curriculum.


The above list is in no way comprehensive, but it does give an idea of the additional analysis necessary for adapting a pre-written lesson for your own students, which is why knowing what they can and can't yet accomplish is of utmost importance.

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Lexile Analyzer® and

Lexile Analyzer® and | Standards-Based Text Sets |

This is a page from, which is basically the most useful website ever for an English Teacher ever.  Seriously. is a site created by Metametrics, which is privately held educational research and measurement company.  Metametrics developed the Lexile text evaluation system.  Lexile scores, while somewhat too flawed to be viewed as the sole tool for evaluating text complexity, are still tremendously valuable in matching students to texts for a variety of purposes. offers a variety of resources.  Teachers can type in titles or authors in order to get Lexile information about specific texts.  There is also a function where students can enter their assessed lexile level, as well as their interests in order to create a 'reccommended reading list.'


For those unfamiliar with Lexile levels, there are multiple ways to determine the lexile level of a student.  One method I have become familiar with is Scholastic's Reading Inventory Computer Program, which will most likely be the focus of a separate entry.


The specific page I have entered as my 'scoop' is the Lexile Analyzer, which is a fascinating tool.  The Lexile Analyzer enables teachers to discover the lexile level of any text that they can plug into a .txt document.  This means that in addition to the huge database of texts that have already been analyzed by, a teacher can analyze any electronic text for lexile level through a simple copy-and-paste process.  Texts that aren't in electronic form can still be analyzed through the more laborious process of manual transcription.  Either way, a valuable tool to be sure.


There is one other use for the Lexile Analyzer that I have not used, thus far, and that is the potential to analyze and chart the growth of complexity in student WRITING.  As referenced earlier, any text that can be plugged into a .txt. document can be analyzed for lexile level.  That means that it is possible to instantly evaluate student writing on the lexile framework by merely asking a student to write in a .txt document, or by copy and pasting from a Word document.  The implications of this could be great when considering the potential impact on pre-assessment of large numbers of students.

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Using Multiple Texts to Teach Content | Adolescent Literacy Topics A-Z |

This is a website that links to a paper detailing strategies and justificatons for using multiple texts to examine topics in all content areas.  However, the author of this work, Cynthia Shanahan sees the use of intertextuality as a valuable end unto itself, rather than a method of ensuring a diverse array of access points.


When it some to the role of intertextuality in the English classroom, Shanahan says the following:

In English, critics make comparisons across texts and engage in lively debate of what texts mean given the different perspectives they take. Students need to understand different perspectives to engage in the processes of interpretation honored by experts in the field. In fact, the knowledge of different perspectives is central to the making of informed written arguments, an essential part of the English curriculum.


In addition, Shanahan outlines major points to consider when relying on mutiple texts in curricular planning.  The bullet points are as follows:

-Start small

-Choose texts that will invite critical thought

-Find out about the source and context of each book

-Engage students in discussing the role of experts

-Define the purpose for reading as deciding what to believe

-Help students gain disciplinary knowledge

-Use discussion as mediator

-Teach students strategies fo comparing and contrasting ideas

-Expand students' reading


Shanahan cites research as well as personal experience to elucidate her understanding of each of these points.


Furthermore, in looking at these points for consideration, we ae reminded that utilizing multiple texts is not merely a scaffold to support the struggliing reader, but also a challenge for the proficient one: a good reminder that true differentiation caters to all ends of the academic spectrum.

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Text Complexity Resources (The Rubric)

I posted this website not so much for any content that it contains, but rather as a resource for downloading helpful documents, the most helpful of which is listed as "Qualitative Measures Rubric."


This is a rubric that I was first introduced to during a Professional Development Workshop at my school this past year, and it really changed the way I examined the appropriateness of texts for specific audiences.  It provides a set of guidelines for placing a text on a spectrum in a variety of areas in ordert to get a sense of just how complex the text may be to struggling, or even proficient readers.  


The rubric breaks text complexity down into several areas:



-Text Structure

-Language Features

-Knowledge Demands




-Text Structure


-Knowledge Demands


When I first worked with the rubric, the goal was to decide about the complexity level of a text in order to order texts from simple to complex for the purposes of sequencing texts in a curriculum.  However, I beleive that they can be valuable in creating text sets, to ensure that you do have texts at both ends of the spectrum.


Truth be told, however, I found the rubric drew my attention to sources of complexity within a text that I had never before considered.  I now plan to apply the rubric to any text I introduce to my clsssroom in order to better understand what aspects of the text may cause my students to struggle to find meaning.  I highly recommend that any educator read through the rubric, and use it to examine texts that you consider relatively simple.  You will be amazed at the amount of ways in which seeingly simple texts can actually prove quite challenging to students struggling with literacy.

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Project RAISSE - Text Set Examples - Historical and Thematic

Project RAISSE - Text Set Examples - Historical and Thematic | Standards-Based Text Sets |

Project RAISSE stands for Reading Assistance Initiative for Secondary School Educators.  At first glance, this would seem to be a goldmine of resources.  However, the organization is organized by the University of South Carolina, and is dedicated mainly to improving schools in South Carolina.  Therefore, the major focus of the website seems to be connecting South Carolina educators to professional development networks and opportunities.  Unless you are planning on spending significant time in South Carolina, the majority of this website is not created for you.


However, there is one section of this website that I think could be helpful to many teachers, and was very helpful to me as I develop my understanding of the creation and usage of text sets in an english classroom.  Under the tab labeled "Content Area Articles / Picture Books / YA" there are several links to 'text set documents.'  These are pdf documents with summaries and analysis of texts at a variety of levels and drawing from a variety of genres centered around a historical or thematic focus.  The lists of text sets are as follows:


American Revolution

Colonial and Revolutionary America

Contemporary United Kingdom



Elections and Voting



Middle Ages




In the pdf document deicated to the text set for 'Heroes,' the teacher who created the document described his reasoning for seeking out these texts.  He wanted to effectively and engagingly examine the text Beowulf in his class, and wanted to allow his students to use other texts to access the themes.  Considering how ubiquitous the theme of heroism is in literature, there is a good chance this list could be use to complement other texts as well.  A brief skim of the CCSS website led me to beleive such a list could easily be used to complement some of the exemplar texts according to the Common Core Consortium:


Homer. The Odyssey  (Grade 9-10)

Bradbury, Ray.  Fahrenheit 451 (Grade 9-10)

Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockinbird  (Grade 9-10)

de Cervantes, Miguel.  Don Quixote (Grade 11-CCR) 

Shakespeare, William.  Hamlet  (Grade 11-CCR)

Eliot, T.S.  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock  (Grade 11-CCR)


These are just texts that I immediatey saw a need to complement with a Heroism text set, but I'm sure the theme of heroism could be worked into most works of literature.


However, one immediate and pragmatic application that I saw to these text sets is something very specific to New York State: the English/Language Arts Regents Critical Lens Essay.


In the Critical Lens Essay, students are presented with a quote.  The students are then asked to write an essay in which they:

1) interpret the quote

2) agree or disagree with the quote

3) use evidence from TWO texts to support their stance


While the quotes are often difficult to interpret, common themes in these quotes continue to reappear.  Three of the most common themes are: control, courage and heroism.  A text set based around these themes in an indepenant reading library could do wonder to prepare students for this essay.


In my experience, most students who achieve success on this essay draw their evidence from one text they examined in class that year (most likely chosen for its ability to relate to critical-lens-type themes) as well as a text they read independantly.  An independant reading rogram which incorporates the identification of theme has done wonders to prepare students for the Critical Lens component of the Regents.  I believe these text set pdf documents can be a resource in developing such a program.

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