Determining Levels 
Creating Questions  

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Determining Levels:  You will need to determine the approximate reading level of each of your excerpts.  There are three ways I know of doing this: 

     (1)  The rule of thumb:  Many have used this in  
             informal situations.  For this rule, you take an  
             excerpt (some teachers simply take a page), 
             and ask the student to place one finger on the page 
             every time they come to a word that they do not  
             know.  If by the end of the excerpt they have covered 
             the page with all five fingers, than the piece likely 
             is too hard.  If you pick an "average" student from 
             a particular grade level, you may get an  
             approximate idea of the level of the piece. 
             Obviously, this method has its limitations. 

     (2)   The Publisher's Work:  Some publishers list the  
              reading level and/or the interest level of some  
              of their books.  For example, "Bantam Books"  
              places and "RL" and "IL" sign near the copyright 
              of some of their books.  ("RL" = "Reading Level", 
              and "IL" = "Interest Level").  Thus, a book may have 
              an "RL" of four (meaning fourth grade) and an  
              "IL" of nine.  Note:  books like this are helpful when 
              you are looking for books with a relatively easy  
              reading level, at a higher interest level, for older 
              students who struggle. 

       (3)   Fry's Method:  Edward Fry invented a "Graph 
                for Estimating Readability".  The graph is simple 
                to use, and is based on the length of words and  
                sentences in a particular piece.  Note:  Excerpts 
                with large amounts of dialogue tend to test  
                abnormally low on Fry's graph.  So, you may  
                want to choose pieces with moderate dialogue. 
At present, there is a site that contains both Fry's graph, and directions for its use: