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Reading: Independent, Instructional, or Frustration Level?

In terms of reading levels, why is it important to teach students at their instructional level? Why shouldn't you teach them at their frustration or independent levels?

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Educators have long believed it is most beneficial to a student to teach them at their independent reading levels instead of their instructional or frustration levels. This is due to a belief that students will develop an unhealthy self-concept if they are constantly frustrated by reading material, or that they will simply "give up" and abandon the literacy experience. Similarly, if students are taught at their independent levels they may become bored, or unaccustomed to being challenged while reading. Educators have also worried about students developing a negative attitude towards reading if they find it too difficult or too easy, e.g. "Reading is boring", "I'd rather do anything besides read a book", "I'm just not a good reader".

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Solution Summary

Critical analysis of the most appropriate student reading level for providing direct reading instruction. Independent, Instructional, or Frustration? Student interest, student autonomy, and traditional ideas on literacy learning are included.

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