Friday, February 11, 2011
Is this book too hard for me?
The first lesson I teach struggling readers who are in literacy groups is how to tell if a book is going to be too hard for them. I use a strategy called the five finger test. I did not create this test, but I have adapted it a bit. Basically, in the five finger test, a student opens a book to a full page somewhere in the middle. They read that page and hold up a finger for every unknown word.
Many resources for the five finger test will tell kids that five fingers up means a book is too hard. I find that with my middle school students, three fingers up is too hard.
I think the reason I had to change the number of fingers is because my students only counted words they couldn't say as unknown words. When I ask them to read out loud to me and there are words they can say but I think they don't know, I will ask them to tell me what the word means.
Quite often these students can't determine a word's meaning from the context. Because so many struggling readers are not metacognitive about their reading, they don't realize when they don't understand a word. I tell my students if they are going to partner read, or follow along with an audio book, they can probably read a four or five finger book. But if they are reading independently, my students choose one, two or three finger books.