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John Bankier Extensive Reading World Congress September 4, 2011

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Not all books are created equal: How to set realistic targets and give grades to learners of different reading levels. John Bankier Extensive Reading World Congress September 4, 2011. Discussion Questions. How many books would you hope students would read in a 14-week semester?

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Not all books are created equal: How to set realistic targets and give grades to learners of different reading levels

John Bankier

Extensive Reading World Congress

September 4, 2011

discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • How many books would you hope students would read in a 14-week semester?
  • How many books do your students actually read?
  • How do you set targets for your students? Number of books, words, pages, or something else?
  • Are you required to give a grade for your students’ ER performance?
teaching context
Teaching Context
  • ER program across 90 students of mixed abilities
  • Variation in
    • abilities in classes
    • nationalities and reading experience
  • Necessity to
    • set targets across classes and the school
    • give reliable grades to students based on effort
approaches to setting targets
Approaches to Setting Targets
  • Large variety but consistently either in terms of books or pages/words
  • Both systems have disadvantages when used for mixed ability groups
  • Key assumption: We need to set a target for all students to meet, which can then be used to determine grading
book based targets
Book-based Targets
  • 12 books a semester, one or more books a week
  • Ideal when
    • targets can be adjusted depending on student level
    • targets are only targets: not used for grading
  • Problems
    • exponential increase in number of pages/words through levels
    • variations between publishers (headwords are fairly consistent, but actual page/word counts are not)
number of words read
Number of words read

Note: Based on a partial sampling of Penguin Readers, Oxford Bookworms Library and Cambridge English Readers. Adapted from http://www.seg.co.jp/sss/shohyou/word-count.html

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Higher and lower level students will be reading much more or much less

  • Some students read faster, but not to this extent
  • One book a week is not sufficient for those reading lower level books
    • develop reading fluency
    • less work for the same grade
  • One level 5 or 6 book a week is not a realistic target
    • more student time for the same grade
  • Rewards underachieving
    • encourages students to read the shortest books
    • discourages students from reading longer books
  • Not all publishers are consistent across their own levels: e.g. Ladder Series (ラッダーシーリズ)
page based targets
Page-based Targets
  • 500-1000 pages a semester
  • Advantages over book-based targets
    • fairer for those reading mid- to high-level books
    • encourages reading of longer books
  • Potential problems for mixed levels
    • 1000 pages is not an achievable target for many
    • a lot more work for low level students
    • encourages students to read longer, more difficult books
a credit based system
A Credit-based System

Major assumptions

1.

  • As it is hard to test for achievement in ER, grades should reflect effort, represented by time spent reading

2.

  • 12 books at Cambridge or Oxford Level 3 per semester is used as a benchmark: an achievable midpoint

3.

  • Pages rather than words were used rather than words

4.

  • Lower level books should be worth more credits because students read more slowly
  • Higher level books should be worth less credits because students read more quickly
  • However, the disparity should not be as great as publishers’ levels
  • No data exists to show how fast students read, hence a “best guess” is necessary
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12 level 3 books a semester = average 700 pages

  • 700 pages is the target
  • One page = 0.1 credit
  • One semester = 70 credits, 12.7 books
  • 70÷700=0.1
  • This calculation is used to work out credits for each level
examples
Examples

(Rounded up or down to the nearest 0.5)

  • Level 6 book of 95 pages: (70÷1000=0.07)×95=6.65 (6.5 credits)
  • Level 2 book of 40 pages: (70÷600=0.12)×40=4.6 (4.5 credits)
  • Level 4 book of 75 pages: (70÷800=0.09)×75=6.5 (6.5 credits)
grades
Grades
  • Can be set based on credits achieved
  • Example: 70 credits = A, 60 credits = B, 50 credits = C
  • Consistent across all classes and levels of students
advantages of credit based targets
Advantages of Credit-based Targets
  • Students spend a more equivalent amount of time reading: grades are fairer
  • Encourages students to move up levels but discourages reading the hardest books right away
  • Discourages students from reading books that are too easy for them
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Book-a-week and page-based targets work well with non-mixed groups, or when grades do not need to be set
  • A credit-based system allows teachers to set targets across a whole institution or mixed-level group
  • These targets translate into letter grades, representing the amount of time spent reading
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