Using ESP Leveled Readers

By Donna Horn and Renee Mulrooney

ESP has added leveled readers* to many of its units. These leveled readers can be used to build background knowledge, introduce new science concepts that will be revisited during science lessons, or help students process what they have been learning. They can also be used in guided reading lessons to build specific reading skills. 

As always, it is ESP's firm belief that science is best learned through experience and questioning. The hands-on approach is critical for helping students develop higher level thinking skills. Leveled readers can supplement science experience, but never replace it. 

A typical guided reading lesson can be divided into three parts - pre-reading, during reading, and post reading. In the pre-reading phase, the teacher activates and builds background knowledge. This can be done through demonstration, by linking new vocabulary to known vocabulary, and by pointing out unusual text features, such as headings, tables or glossaries. The teacher should explicitly state the skill or strategy that students will be practicing while reading. For example, the students might be directed to ask themselves questions and search for answers as they read. Finally, the teacher will set the purpose for learning - what are the characteristics of solids, liquids and gases, for example. 

During reading, students will be assigned the entire text or sections of the text to read quietly. The teacher monitors the reading through brief interactions in which the teacher may question the student's thinking or review notes made by the students as they read. 

Once all students have read the assigned portion of the text, the teacher will engage students in a discussion about what they read so that comprehension can be assessed and misconceptions cleared up. Lastly, the teacher will want to remind students of the skill or strategy they practiced, and how this can help them as readers. When used before a science activity, the content will become more meaningful as they actually do the science they just read about. When used after an activity, the reading and discussion helps students reach a deeper understanding of what they did. 

Each of the readers in a leveled set developed by the ESP contains the same content. The unique aspect is that they are intentionally written so that students with different reading abilities all have access to that content. The readers use both expository and fiction texts to accomplish the task of increasing science concept understanding. 

*Please note that leveled readers are not provided in the kit. A single sample of the three levels of one title is in the box. Sets of readers can be printed from the CD-ROM in the kit, from the ESP Website, or ordered from ESP.

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