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Reading Ladders by Teri S. Lesesne

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Jennifer Phillips

on 7 April 2015

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Transcript of Reading Ladders by Teri S. Lesesne

Reading Ladders
Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be
by Teri S. Lesesne

Chapter 3
Motivating Readers

“Real motivation is intrinsic, coming from within readers” (p. 21).
“Motivation is a key element in the success of any endeavor” (p. 21).
“Think of motivation as the beginning of a cycle that prompts engagement; its key components are action and practice, which in turn prompt success, which refuels motivation” (p. 21).

2- Choose the books that will occupy the top and bottom rungs.
What is a reading Ladder?
1- Choose what type of Reading Ladder you would like to make
Chapter 1
Meeting Students Where They Are.
Four R's:
“That is the purpose of reading ladders. It is not sufficient to find just one book for each reader; we need to be able to guide that reader toward other books.” (pg 12)

Chapter 7
Climbing the Ladder to Assessment
Chapter 4
Creating Lifelong Readers
Chapter 2
Lincoln Logs: How We Begin to Build Lifelong Readers
Chapter 6
Upping the Ante with Reading Ladders
This chapter gave more information on next steps with reading ladders. After you get the typical ladder down, you can try ladders based on the following:
Ladders with wordplay
Symphony (think of a circle pattern instead of a ladder)
Design (visual literacy is becoming more important)
“Reading levels and Lexiles are not the way to determine the rigor of a text. Instead, rigor should be determined by sophistication of thought, depth of character development, stylistic choices, and mastery of language on the part of the author” (p. 6).
Dealing with real life: that, in a nutshell, is relevance (p. 7).
“Making connections between books that our students know and the ones we wish them to read is one way to make reading more relevant” (p. 8).
“Literature, it seems, is about more than meaning: it is about what we bring to the reading and how the text connects to us as readers” (p. 10).

“Lifetime readers have developed relationships with books and authors” (p. 10).
Essentially teaching kids how to have authentic responses, not rote memorized responses to passages.
“Response also includes talking about the relative merits of the books we read” (p. 3).

Foundational Piece #1: Reading Aloud
Foundational Piece #2: Access to Books
Foundational Piece #3: Models of Literacy
Foundational Piece #4: Time to Read
Foundational Piece #1
Reading Aloud
“Forming a sturdy foundation requires being read aloud to along the way” (p. 13).

Foundational Piece #2
Access to Books
“In order for a reading foundation to be strong, it must include access to books” (p. 14).
“Stephen Krashen (2008) notes the importance of access to books as well when he posits that access to books is a better predictor of success in school than other factors, such as socioeconomic status” (p. 15).

Foundational Piece #3
Models of Literacy
“If we are to develop as lifelong readers, having models of literacy around us can be key” (p. 15).

Foundational Piece #4
Time to Read
“Reading aloud, access to books, and models of literacy will mean little in terms of developing readers unless there is time for them to actually read” (p. 16).

Opening Paragraph
Form and Format
“Title, cover, and opening paragraphs
are the triumvirate, the elements that must grab students first if the other factors are even going to have a chance” (p 23).

Book Variables (book selection variables)
“Most often mentioned in a discussion of student variables are age, gender, and intelligence” (p. 31).
“Boys prefer to read books with male main characters; similarly, girls prefer to read books with female main characters” (p. 31).
“However, the chronological age of a reader is less of a variable than the development age of the reader” (p. 30).

Student Variables
School Variables
“The variables within the school setting are perhaps the easiest for us to control. We often speak of creating an environment for reading, a reading climate” (p. 32).
Classroom Libraries
“Books selected for the classroom library should be subject to some critical analysis” (p. 33).

“What might motivate one student does not necessarily motivate another. A book that excites on class might fail miserably with another” (p. 35).

“A classroom library is built one book at a time by you to fit the individual needs and interests to your students” (p. 36).
Ask the following questions to see if the book should be added to your library
Is this a book that will appeal to the students in your classrooms?
Is the book appropriate for your students?
Does the book possess some of the qualities that would attract less-than-avid readers?
Are there books to appeal to a wide range of readers?
Do you have enough boy books?
How are your books arranged?
Have you read all books in the collection?

Building a Classroom Library:
Reading Aloud and Booktalking
“Reading aloud and booktalking should be part
of every teacher’s bag of tricks, though many teachers take on their first classroom never having been introduced to them” (p. 39).
Finding the right book
“When I am deciding which books to include in a booktalk, I am looking for those books that might not sell themselves but that should, with some guidance, find the right audience” (p. 42).
“In general, a book that I will talk about is a book that elicited some strong response from me” (p. 42).
Finding the right way to tell students about the book
(p. 43)
Finding a way to connect one book to another
(p. 44)
Becoming the go-to person


Chapter 5
Building Reading Ladders

“Having two series on the bottom rungs will permit less skilled readers the opportunity to pause on a step and read horizontally until they are comfortable enough to continue up the ladder” (p. 53).
Time Period
Similar Character traits
Similar Conflicts
Author (sometimes)

If you have more choice/option in what you make your reading ladder out of, consider starting with a class survey to recognize student interests.
“Simply, a reading ladder is a series or set of books that are related in some way and that demonstrate a slow, gradual development from simple to more complex” (p. 48).
“The intent is to move readers from their comfort zone to books that represent more diversity” (p. 48).
General Rules for Creating Reading Ladders
Bottom rung= a book students will want to read without much prodding
Top rung= where we would like to get students to
Start with small reading ladders (maybe 3 books)
Filling in the middle rungs will depend on what your ladder's focus is on.
A few tips on finding time to read to create all of these ladders...
Make a pledge to read every day
Use the list of award winners to narrow your search
Speed read (unless you are doing an in-depth analysis)
Keep notepads/journals nearby to record ideas
Subscribe to reviewing journals
Supplement your reading with audiobooks
Start small (build one or two ladders)
Share your knowledge with your colleagues
This list sounds familiar...
Simple Six
Create a six word memoir or a six word summary of a book
I've Got a Secret
Create a postcard that has a 'secret' from the point of view of the protagonist, antagonist, or favorite character.
All Aboard
Have students create a storyboard about the plot or a specific character.
Hear Here
Students can create a podcast about the following:
Book reviews
Scripts from sections of books
Discussions from class
A verbal journal from a character's point of view
Down the Tube
Have students record book trailers. They can be short teasers or full-fledged book talks.
Create a Book Meme
Questions to consider for a book meme:
Which book is the first one you read that touched you in some deep way?
Do you flip to the last page and read it first, or do you force yourself to wait until the end?
Which book character would you switch places with?
Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in you life?
What is the strangest item you've ever found in a book.
Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take.
What is the worst book you have ever read?
Reading ladders are a great way to move readers towards more difficult and 'worthwhile' books.
“The goal of this entire book, building reading ladders, is slowly to move students from where they are to where we would like them to be” (p. 7).
What is your opinion of creating a reading ladder?

Additional Themes to Consider
Exploration of Inner Person
Graphic Novels
Historical Fiction
Science (Fiction and Nonfiction
Short Stories
What other themes can you think of?
A Reading Ladder I've Completed:
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Your Turn!
Try to create a reading ladder with The Hunger Games
Genre: Dystopian
Coming of Age
Power of Words
Society and Class
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