We’re in Albany today with 150 amazing folks at our Reading Reconsidered workshop.
Earlier this morning we discussed the five plagues of the developing reader–five common challenges that make complex text difficult for students and that are not captured by quantitative measures of text complexity such as Lexiles.
We discussed the example of Lord of the Flies and The Outsiders. By Lexile measures these two books are almost indistinguishable. But as any teacher who knows these books will instantly realize, Lord of the Flies is approximately 107 times as challenging to young readers as is The Outsiders.
Why? The ‘Five Plagues’ is our answer to that-the hidden barriers that makes texts challenging.
If you’re familiar with Reading Reconsidered, you know those plagues: Archaic text, Non-linear time sequence, Complexity of narrator, Complexity of plot, Resistant text.
While participants at our workshops usually find these plagues helpful, they also find sourcing examples to be a key challenge and this was also something we discussed today. Where, they asked, do I find examples of archaic and non-linear texts for fourth grade students?
We provided a partial list in Reading Reconsidered of course but have known for a long time it was incomplete.
Fortunately, Matthew Dix, a colleague from Nottingham in the UK [pro-tip for US readers: ‘Notting’um,’ not ‘Notting-HAM”] has stepped into the breach and assembled this amazing resource including texts aligned to each of the plagues for the primary years.
We think it’s ‘lit,’ as the kids say.
In case it’s easier, here’s a PDF version.
Incidentally, Matthew, and two other teachers also produce educationally themed music… rocking out on literacy, math and science, under the name MR. A, MR. C AND M.R D. You’ll probably want to check that out.