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Book band sub-levels?

(12 Posts)
GreatJoanUmber Tue 28-Jan-14 13:28:05

My DS1 has been on 'orange' books since mid December. Over the holidays, his reading really improved, so when term started in January, the orange books all seemed very easy for him. I kept writing in his reading record "Very easy read", "no problems with words and comprehension" etc, but he still kept getting the same level books. So last week I commented something like "a bit more challenging would be nice", and he got a book labelled "Orange 3" - it was a red bananas story called Little Fred Riding Hood, if that means anything to anyone- and while I thought it was just right for DS in terms of tricky words and story, it was also VERY long (60+ pages?) and the layout was difficult for him (sometimes only 2 words in a line so he'd miss a whole line).
I wrote just that as feedback, and yesterday he came home again with an "Orange 2" book which was super simple.
So I guess my question is; is it normal to have such a big difference in difficulty between sub-levels? I'd like DS to get slightly more challenging books as he finds the easy ones a bit boring; but if the next step up is books with 5 chapters for one story, that seems a bit much! What do I put in his feedback book without sounding like a pushy mummy?

I don't think the school has got one particular reading scheme, he seems to get everything from Biff, Chip etc over Songbirds to non-fiction and those banana books.

columngollum Tue 28-Jan-14 14:07:39

Are the books old and tatty, by the way?

I'd be inclined to throw all the school books in the bin and just go to the library.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 28-Jan-14 14:23:59

I thought Red Bananas were pretty recent but could be wrong.

I would expect he is still on orange due to expression, fluency, comprehension, 'other skills' or something like that. DD1 was on Orange at school when she started reading early reader chapter books at home. The school were either looking for something she wasn't demonstrating there which she was at home or trying to slow her down a little bit due to age.

I would think they are probably looking at the 'other skills' to go with the national curriculum levels that normally would go with orange.

It does seem strange to have such a jump. the much longer books in our school were kept until later stages even if the words in them were easier than the others at that level, I think they looked at the length and therefore the stamina and things involved with reading that.

Up to Orange at our school they have 3 sub levels in each book band but they are more subtle differences in difficulty (if any is obvious at all)

It sounds like the longer books are fine for him but he will obviously take a few days to read them compared to a 24page Oxford Reading Tree book. I think you need to speak to the teacher to find out what they think.

PrincessScrumpy Tue 28-Jan-14 14:32:22

It's all very vague in my mind too - although I hope dd's teacher understands. dd is year 1 and can come home with anything from a Biff, chip etc book, a ladybird book or a chapter book. dc are allowed to pick their own but dd has mentioned that the TA has told her a few times now to look for chapter books.
dd is a confident reader, but now she is on level 8 or 9 (can't actually remember as I've stopped stressing about it) I have completely chilled. I still write comments like "read fluently with full comprehension" but as she's enjoying the books and finds reading easy I figure she is now building up stamina.
Might ask at parents evening next month if she hasn't gone up a level by then. It depends what the teacher is looking to work on with him. I found when dd was bored as it was too simple she ended up reading badly as she didn't bother looking and just guessed what the word would be - that was a sign to move her up. It was words like "the" and "and" that I know she reads easily, and she would get distracted mid page. We tried some books at home so we could say to the teacher dd reads Roald Dahl with ease at home to give the teacher an idea of her ability.

tiredbutnotweary Tue 28-Jan-14 15:06:18

This is all very clear in my mind with respect to the levels (there are no sublevels) - the mystery is what the teacher / school is playing at!

Red bananas are at least lime and maybe above.. DDs school book bands go beyond lime & she only started to get 6 chapter books beyond lime. See this link that confirms red bananas are NC level 3 (lime is a 2a / 3c depending on publisher)! So red bananas are 5 to 6 whole bands above orange.

Why wouldn't the teacher move your DS to purple? It's almost as if they have a joke book to shut up the parents if they push to get their child moved up. Or the teacher is clueless ... the former seems unlikely, the latter ridiculous but I can't think of any reasonable explanation for doing this!

I'd check out the free e books on Oxford Owls & work out for yourself the appropriate level for your DS.

tiredbutnotweary Tue 28-Jan-14 15:08:54

Sorry here's the link again

GreatJoanUmber Tue 28-Jan-14 16:06:53

Thanks for the replies, everyone!
That link is very interesting - I thought it seemed a lot harder than anything Orange we've had!
Whenever they read with DS at school, he gets comments like "Super reading", "Well read", "Read with ease" etc. if it is his teacher, she will sometimes add what we can work on. Still, I feel that these books aren't stretching DS, and while he reads lots of varied books at home, I don't want his school reading to become an annoying chore!

I suppose I'll have to talk to his teacher at the next progress meeting in February. It's just strange though - today he came home with a Green book; and even one that he's already read back in November (and it was easy for him then!). Do you think they are just a bit unorganised at school??
Some of the books are quite old and tatty by the way, others look quite new, so I guess they're just using everything they have.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 28-Jan-14 20:01:56

is he allowed to choose his book or do they give him one that they have chosen?

green makes no sense.

I must admit I had thought red bananas were harder but I never actually worked out which order the banana ones went in. sounds like they have them in completely the wrong place.

Our school split the levels into sub levels because there can be quite a difference between some of the books. they TEND in our case to go from the older reading scheme ones and phonics ones in 1, then Biff Chip and Kipper and some non scheme books in 2 and then non fiction and poetry tends to be in 3.

tiredbutnotweary Tue 28-Jan-14 20:25:12

They do sound disorganised! Sometimes, if children choose their own books, then books end up in the wrong box, or a yellow band in with gold, a blue in turquoise or the other way around.

But to label a red bananas as orange just seems, well I mean it so obviously isn't!

I agree with noname regarding non-fiction and would have been happy for DD to have been a book band below for that type of book, but that's not how things are done so non-fiction just takes longer to get through (though she loves them and I'm the one asking please can you choose a story next)!!!!

Do you know what method they use to move children up the levels at your DS's school GreatJoan?

freetrait Tue 28-Jan-14 21:59:05

Errrrr, sounds like whoever is in charge of reading books isn't really being in charge! And they aren't being very responsible, maybe they are time pressured but I think it's a bit daft to send a child home with "any" book rather than the correct level book (we had this with DS at beginning of Y1, he brought home an easy book he'd read in March in Reception, and it was even noted in the same reading diary he still had if the teacher had bothered to look...).

Sounds like he needs something in between orange and lime +, Red Bananas are for fluent readers, and would certainly be very challenging for someone previously on orange shock. He probably needs gold or white- maybe a stone's throw away from being fluent and able to pick up lots of different things. I second the going to the library idea, and find the right sort of level yourself for him there. Sounds like it won't be long before he can try most things and then the fun starts smile.

GreatJoanUmber Wed 29-Jan-14 16:12:26

The mystery continues... After my comment about the green book yesterday (which DS said the teacher had given to him), he had a note in his reading record saying he had been reminded to choose from the 'Orange 3' box.
So today he's got an orange 3 non-fiction book by Rigby Star Quest - I quickly googled the title and apparently it's White Level?? Which just makes me think they label everything orange from a certain point on, just with a different number?

It's a very small village school, and they only go up to year 2, so maybe that has something to with it. I think generally it's a very good school but then of course I haven't got anything to compare with it! So far, DS always got moved up when the books became too easy - I think he has now been moved on to this orange 3 level, whatever it may be.

Anyway, today's book is just right for him in terms of length, content and words, so I shall just wonder about their levelling system and leave it at that wink

tiredbutnotweary Wed 29-Jan-14 20:25:41

Interesting - it sounds like they've taken the time to book band following the national banding colours until orange and then there's a much more mixed and broad grouping - perhaps turquoise to gold in orange 2 and white to who knows in orange 3. I wonder if there's an orange 4?!

At least you've got a good idea regarding his level if white feels like a good fit!

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