I mentioned making binders a couple of posts ago. What I meant was compiling binders of print-outs of the Reading Skills Stories from the Marshall Adult Education website.
These printable, pdf resources are made up of a one page reading and a one page worksheet, and are grouped into levels of reading difficulty beginning with Reading Level .7. I slip them into plastic sleeves, asking my learners to write out their answers on loose-leaf or in a scribbler so as to reduce printing or photocopy costs, and arrange them in 1" binders. I like the 1" binders because I can fit three levels at a time: in other words levels .7 through 1.5 fit in one binder, levels 2 through 3.5 fit in another, and so on. Then, I leave it to my learners to decide which level they want to work at, and which particular stories interest them.
The short passages offer a mixture of workplace, or work-seeking, themes and family-based stories; the latter, focusing equally on the lives of parents and children's needs. Although the site has been around for a while, remarkably few passages are dated. For example, in Using TV Wisely reference is made to the Dora cartoon, while one of the workplace themes is about cell phone etiquette at work.
I don't necessary enjoy all of the passages. Some of the poetry is too icky sweet for me. The story Remember Your Passengers is fairly horrific. The passage titled What Can One Person Do? misses the point that Dr. King's genius lay in building alliances and mobilizing large groups of a cross-section of citizens. Too, some content is specific to the United States (Zip Code or This Land is Our Land). Also, I'm sorry that there isn't a way to download a whole level at once as a zip file.
But these are small points. The really great thing about these passages is that if you work through enough of them - literally read and answer them yourself - you begin to see how to make your own stories and questions, pitched to a particular level but based on your own learner's lives and experiences.
By the way, these stories are also computerized. That is, rather than printing out the sheets, it is possible to read the stories and answer the questions online. The stories appear in a pop-up box, along with an audio tool so that learners can have the story read to them (though this needs a plugin that was missing or not working in my particular Firefox, Chrome and I.E. browsers).
In any case, do go check them out.
Marshall Adult Education is associated with Sonoma State University (located just north of San Francisco). Their reading resources were created in partnership with the National Head Start Family Literacy Center.