Dave responds to the authentic resources discussion:


I completely agree obviously.  Incomprensible input is no help at all.  I also have issues with “authenticity” and what the concept even means.
I am going to a 2 day professional development workshop on IPA (Integrated Performance Assessment) training next week, and I want to be as prepared as possible about the inappropriateness of much of it for novice learners.  I was going to point out that in English we shelter vocabulary but not grammar with young learners (i.e. they read Bernstein Bears not Shakespeare).  In the IPA they specifically a) require “authentic” texts that are not modified or glossed and b) require students to infer meaning of unknown words from context.  I hate it with a passion, although I know I am fighting a losing cause at my school.  If you do think of anything else please let me know.

I sympathize with you. I have been through very similar circumstances.  Here is a citation that may help you:
The usual definition of “authentic” is “a text written by native speakers for native speakers”. Perhaps a better definition is this one: “A text that is interesting and comprehensible.” In my view, it is the second definition that is appropriate for language education. In other words, there is nothing wrong with reading texts that are specially prepared for second and foreign language students, as long as they are interesting and comprehensible. they can be a useful first step, leading to the reading of texts that are authentic in the traditional sense. Insisting that all reading be from texts written by and for native speakers usually results in a great deal of incomprehensible input and frustration.
Stephen D. Krashen, 1997. Foreign Language Education the Easy Way, p. 34. Language Education Associates, Culver City, California
Chop up the paragraph and use as needed.
I know I that you know this and that I have said it before, but it bears repeating: Students that are learning a language need vocabulary controlled texts. We do this all of the time with weak readers in English. We give them low vocabulary/high interest books in order to get them up to speed. Why would we suddenly force reading that is not comprehensible upon foreign language students when we would never do that to a weak reader of English?
If this is not persuasive and you find yourself in the midst colleagues that reject teaching with comprehensible input, despite the research, the leading of ACTFL and the success of comprehensible input based teaching, then I suppose you could use authentic maps and menus for assessments and then return to massive doses of interesting comprehensible input in your classroom the rest of the time in the form of  novels. In other words, use the many excellent leveled novels available and combine them with stories so that students can read the unfamiliar “authentic” stuff when they need to. Authentic material that is above the level of student acquisition cannot hold most students attention long enough for them to acquire much from it, but perhaps it could be used in some way to assess.
On your other question about what % of words need to be known for independent reading, after a quick Google search I found this article http://www.willapabay.org/~thelewis5/section3.htm  which cites 95%-99% word recognition for independent reading
http://www.fcrr.org/curriculum/glossary/glossaryOfReading.pdf  95% + for independent reading, 90% for instructional reading
Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.
We’re all in this together,