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Hello!

I'm sure this has been addressed before but with the forum indexing still ongoing, I've not been able to find this in the Forum or through the Google Search instructions. My daughter will be entering 1st grade in August and this will be the first year we pursue the classical approach so I'm trying to get a big jump start on planning, purchasing materials, etc.

In the Well Trained Mind, under Reading Skills three levels are mentioned: Instructional, At Level, and Below Level. These make sense to me, but I'm puzzled as to what exactly "instructional" readings would be. We are using the Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading for Phonics.

At the end of the chapter on Grammar Stage Reading there are a lot of suggestions as to at level and below level books ("Click Clack Moo", The Frances series, etc.) but nothing regarding instruction other than Phonics. 

If someone here could either point me to a previous post about this or give me a hint as to what "instructional level" reading would be and/or recommend specific titles, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you!

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At level is what they can comfortably read by themselves without many errors. Instructional level can be around 95 percent accuracy or so and is done aloud to stretch them. Below level would be something that is below the grade level of at level to work on fluency. 

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Instructional level would books that they can read but need help with some of the words. Instructional level books have phonics concepts they may not have encountered yet or have only learned very recently.

At level books would be ones that they should be able to read on their own without too much difficulty and practice the phonics concepts they are currently working on.

Below level would be books that they can read easily for enjoyment or fluency practice and books that are far too easy for for them. These books have only phonics concepts that they have already learned and practiced for a while so they can easily read them for information or enjoyment without constantly stumbling over words they have to decode.

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"First Grade Instructional Level" is rather ambiguous. Some first graders are still struggling to read BOB books while others are reading Frog and Toad books and still others are reading Charlotte's Web. Any of those could be Instructional Level books, it just depends on the child and where they are in the process of learning to read.

Bob Books could be instructional level if the child is still learning to sound out CVC words. If a child can comfortably sound out CVC words and is working on learning blends, BOB books would be "At Level" most likely because they should be able to read them comfortably but not fluently. If they can read a BOB book fluently then they would be "Below Level".

Nora Gaydos readers and the I See Sam books would be about the same level as BOB books. You could Google for "CVC beginner readers" and get tons of printable beginner reader options.

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There are BOB style book sets on themes now too - like Star Wars ones and things like that. The free ones with Progressive Phonics are nice in online options.

I just wanted to add that it's important not to be dismissive of the "below level" reading. There's a line of thinking in schools now where they actually ban kids from reading books that are easy to read. Ugh. How are you ever supposed to learn to like reading if it's always made to be purposefully hard? The below level and at level books are good for fostering an enjoyment of reading and for building fluency. What level any of those are varies completely based on your child. I haven't looked at TWTM in a little while, so I'm not sure how it's laid out for that, but since first graders have such a range, I'm not sure what she's considering "at level." It's also going to change dramatically from the beginning of the year to the end for most first graders.

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