Recording titles and determining genre is a piece of cake next to leveling books, at least that’s what I think. Last week I generated about 10 pages of titles — all of which need to be leveled. As my good friend Mickie pointed out — it is a massive amount of work.
My current strategy is to try to locate the book titles in online databases — preferably the databases that are free. Yes, I know Fountas Pinnell has the Cadillac of levelled book databases and I actually subscribed to it once upon a time. What I discovered was that, unless I had a significant amount of time to just punch in book titles, I quickly ran through my subscribed visits.
Now I am trying a more economical way to level which of course means I’m relying on someone else’s skill at leveling books. Considering the number of titles that need to be leveled, I’m okay with that — any huge disagreements/discrepancies can be addressed later, if there are any.
With this in mind, I’ve located 2 databases which are quite helpful, if not as extensive as Fountas Pinnell. The first, is a database of leveled books available through Beaverton Oregon Public Schools. This database allows the user to search by title, author, guided reading, reading recovery, etc. While the newest titles in my classroom are not always listed on the database, I’m finding a lot of books that have been in the library a while.
The second database I’ve been using a lot is from Scholastic Books. Since Scholastic has such a large piece of the publishing pie, many titles are included in their database. The books that are published by Scholastic, but not leveled according to Guided Reading principles at least have a grade equivalency and/or Lexile attached — that will make my own leveling a little easier as there will be at least a ballpark benchmark.
With 10 pages of handwritten notes, it is clear that very quickly the scribbling will get out of control, so some thought needs to be given to a way to keep the book inventory electronically. Some who have been through this process have made recommendations for online book databases, but as I have mentioned, I am trying to do this project with minimal expenses — and I don’t like having to pay subscription fees to keep records. There are database programs available through both Appleworks and Microsoft Office. However, my database requirements will be quite simple — record the title, level, genre and the ability to sort and print. For this application, I am going to set up a database in an Excel worksheet.
There’s much to consider and do.