Accelerated Reader

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by teachgrade5, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2010

    Our school is going to make AR a focus. Last year, my school was the worst in the corporation on points and comprehension percentage. We have already established how many points each grade level classroom should achieve before the end of the school. For instance, each 5th grade class should have at least 900 points at the end of the year. We also made a school goal for points. We also want to work towards 80% comprehesion on quizzes. The principal wants to do a pizza party each month for each grade level classroom that has the most points and 80% comprehension. She is also planning on having a hallway display.

    What kind of things does your school do in order to fire kids up to participate in AR? Do you have school displays or themes? Any input would be great. I would like to send some more ideas to my principal about AR.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Jul 19, 2010

    We have an AR store in my school. The store is full of little prizes that are given a point value. The kids use their AR points to purchase these items.
     
  4. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Jul 19, 2010

    It's a fine line. I'm all for motivation, but you need to be careful with competition when students learn at different rates and have different abilities.

    I would focus more heavily on real reading skills and let AR take care of itself.
     
  5. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Jul 19, 2010

    When we did AR, we had an AR kickoff day- it was a day of games and fun presentations. At the end of the year, we would have another celebration with the teachers from the winning classes involved in pie throwing type things.

    We would always have a school-wide theme. Our AR day would be centered around it.

    I always had a BB to help the kids keep track of their goals. I went by percentage of their goal and had 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 on the board. They moved their name from place to place depending on their goal. (During our circus theme [Read Under the Big Top], I had elephants with the percentages, and peanuts with their names).

    We required 85% correct and each student had individual goals. The class with the most points AND was above 85% on average would win at the end of the year. We had a 2-3 competition, and a 4-5 competition.

    900 points is pretty low for a 5th grade class. 2 years ago, I had 6 students with over 700 points each. One set the school record with 1100 points.

    We did away with AR. I do like it for some reasons, but the competitive students read just to have the most points. They read books below their level sometimes for 'easy points'. (Note- they do have to keep an average book level based on their reading ability).
    I always had some students who would not take a single test. We were not allowed to force them.
    I am also not convinced it helps comprehension all that much...
     
  6. kacieann

    kacieann Companion

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    Jul 19, 2010

    We do not have class awards but individual awards if the student meets their own goal. This allows each student to be responsible for themselves instead of a few students doing all the work for a classroom.
     
  7. TeachinHicks

    TeachinHicks Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2010

    We use AR, and not much emphasis is put on points. Our librarian does a big to-do with them at the end of the year for the students in each class with the most points. They get different prizes, etc.

    My thing with AR is...what about the kids who read so far below grade level??? For example, I had a student this year who read on a 1st grade level. He had maybe 20 points total for the year...going into 5th there is NO way he would ever make it to 900. Please remember when you set those goals to make them reasonable. The kids who don't make it, it can really hurt their confidence in themselves as readers... just my :2cents:
     
  8. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2010

    I do agree that 900 points is too low for the class, as my classes generally score over 1000 points each of the last three years we have had AR.

    I do have my students set individual goals. They keep track in their data binder. We also make goals and keep track as a whole class. Students do read at their level. The 900 points is not an individual student, it is the whole class all together.

    I agree. I don't encourage my students to compete against each other. I talk to them about setting goals and achieving their goals. Now that doesn't mean they don't compete, because I have had classes that want to be number 1 and will work to achieve that goal.
     
  9. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Jul 19, 2010

    We had a school goal last year for AR. I think it helped push some teachers and kids. We have always had the % set at 85, but I think 80 is better. B is a B and if a kid gets 4 out of 5 right on a test that hurts them.
    I have always had the chart on the wall where they moved based on their percentage of their goal, but it has never been as successful as I would have liked. So I am looking to try something different with it this year, not sure what yet.
    I like AR and think it is a good program, but it is true that some kids just don't read and don't take the tests. I encourage them as much as possible, but I can't make them take a test. That is their responsibility.
    One of the most frustrating things is when students whip through books just to take the test and then fail it. We have tried to set up different things to help prevent this, but somehow some kids find a way around it, tricky suckers.
     
  10. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2010

    Last year was my first year with AR and I didn't do well with it at all. I found it hard to keep students accountable and it was one of those tasks that was easy for me to push aside when really I should have been more diligent.

    My P last year (and fellow teacher this year) implemented a system where students are assigned short stories (crate books from Macmillan) to read along with self-selected selections. Each student is given a pocket folder with a reading log. Based on present levels and interest, 1-3 crate books at that child's readiness level are placed in their folder. Upon scoring 80% or better, these books are replaced by more challenging books (by the teacher or aide). If the student does not acheive mastery, that book is replaced with a book on the same or lower level. Students may self-select AR books from our school library within their range (as given to the librarian) in order to move up in their range, they should have an average of 80% for at least 5 quizzes on their present level.

    I struggled last year with students taking quizzes and failing them or students not selecting books at their levels. MY P said that students who didn't take the quizzes seriously and reread the books were bumped down and for many of them, this was enough of a deterrent.

    We also give the kids charms for necklaces for every 5 quizzes they achieve a 5/5 on. I'm hoping to do a class-wide incentive like a popsicle party or hat day for achieving a class goal.

    My P's plan sounds like a lot of administration but I'm hoping that with a class of 10 or so next year, I'll be able to keep up with and tweak it.
     
  11. sundrop

    sundrop Cohort

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    Jul 20, 2010

    We use AR. Each grade has its own classroom requirements which I have nothing to do with. I am in the Library, so I keep track of the student pts cumulative from the time they begin taking tests in 1st grade. I have a wall on which I keep track of each student in school and how many points they have. This gets updated at the end of each quarter. This is also when I notify students if they have reached a new pt level. I have a variety of prizes: paper cubes, lanyards, book bags, $10 gift card to a book store, lunch with the principal (some of the highest levels).

    I've used different themes for the AR wall. Once it was a race car theme. Each student had a car, pts were on checkered flags. Another time it was airplanes and hot air balloons with pts on clouds. Currently I have a Harry Potter theme. Each student drew a House from the sorting hat at the beginning of last year. Students are divided among the four Hogwarts houses. I took their picture with the hat, cape, glasses on which is what I use as the marker on the board. I found a Harry Potter font to type the pts. In addition to each student reaching different levels, last year I also had a competition between houses. The house that passed the most correct tests got a free pass to go bowling. The other students could go bowling too but had to pay for it.

    We have a school goal. If it is reached by the end of the year, we have an ice cream sundae party.
     
  12. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2010

    What a cool idea using Harry Potter and the houses! How many students do you have in your building? My building is pretty big, so I wonder how much organization it requires. Thanks for all of the great ideas.
     
  13. sundrop

    sundrop Cohort

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    Jul 21, 2010

    We have about 250 students PreK-8 but only 1-8 participate in AR. I bought a Sorting Hat online, wrote the names of the 4 houses on slips of paper, and had students draw from the Sorting Hat on the first day of class. I found and bought a Hogwarts hat, glasses, banners for the 4 houses, and a Hogwarts banner all online to use.[​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Jul 21, 2010

    I love AR and don't care if some kids read some easy books to get points, they're reading! You can't stop all the cheaters for sure but it gives motivation to those kids you wouldn't catch reading. It's also one of the few ways these days to reward kids who can accomplish a lot.

    We do dog tags for 10 point clubs, 25, 50, 100, 125... I've had several kids (2nd grade) who earned over 500 points. Sure they read a few easy books but they taught themselves fluency. One girl taught herself to speed read, she could read a Magic Tree House book in 5 minutes, take the test and make a 100.

    I also have a p.j. party when the class earns 1,000 points and a beach party when they earn 2,000 points. When we have the p.j. party they bring their blankies, stuffed animals, sleeping bags, house shoes, and of course they wear their p.j.s, I do too. For the beach party they bring beach towels, sun glasses, and we listen to the Beach Boys.
     
  15. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 21, 2010

    I don't think I our school could do Harry Potter the way you do. It sounds so cool!! We have between 750-800 students between grades K-5. Of course only 1-5 takes AR also. I think my principal is leaning towards a race theme. I am going in today to see if that is still her plan. I want to have a similar display in my classroom. I have an race car bulletin board set. It was suppose to be for behavior, but I think I am going to see how I can change it for AR. Thanks for all of the great ideas! I love the ideas about ice cream, p.j. party, and beach party. I may do something like this in my class if my class reaches certain goals. I was also thinking about doing a movie night. We aren't allowed to watch full feature movies in class during the day, but I was thinking if my class met a certain goal, I would take a Friday night to have movie night. I was thinking we could get the projector and watch the movie in the gym. The kids could bring pillows and blankets, kick off their shoes and enjoy a movie. We could have popcorn and other snacks. I am sure I could get some parents to help out with snacks.
     
  16. CiniMini

    CiniMini Rookie

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    Jul 21, 2010

    I HATE AR.

    That being said, our school does it, therefore, I do it--with fake enthusiasm. If we're paying for a program, we might as well use it to the full.

    Each six weeks each child has a goal. (I know everyone in first grade had a goal of 10 points.) If they get their points they get to go to the AR party. 1st six weeks--go to the park. 2nd--Gross Grub (around Halloween) 3rd--Movie and Popcorn 4th--Ice cream 5th--Sock Hop (Dance) Then we usually have some big thing at the end of the year for those who get their yearly goal. Last year they went to Alabama Adventure (a theme park not too far from us)

    They also have AR Banners that are awarded to the top 6 classes. Last year it was decided by which class had the most percent of their class going to the AR party. We get the banner and hang it outside our classroom.
     
  17. LuvTchng

    LuvTchng Companion

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    Jul 23, 2010

    We are a big AR school. Our students have individual point goals based on their independent reading levels. Here are a couple of things that have worked well for my students:

    1) Each student has a laminated thermometer in increments of 10 up to 100%. This is where I shade their progress toward their individual goals. It's a visual so they can see when they reach benchmarks such as 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of their individual goals. The thermometers are on a bulletin board and I shade them in every one to two weeks. The media center awards a prize for each of these benchmarks ( a bookmark and bracelet for 25%, a certificate and dog tag for 50%, a certificate and dog tag for 75%, a certificate awarded live by the principal on the AM annoucements, ribbon, and dog tag for 100%, and so on as they go higher and higher).

    2) Each student has a laminated frog with their name on it. I have one, too because they compete against ME (not each other). This board is titled "Hop to the Top in AR" and has lily pads with different point ranges like 1-4.9 points, 5-9.9 points, and so on up to about 50 points. Their goal is to try to reach the top lily pad before I do. I have our media specialist or tech person enroll me in the AR program every year so I can take quizzes right along with my students.

    3) I generally have AR celebrations for students who reach certain benchmarks by set deadlines- for example an ice cream party for all students who've earned 50% of their individual goals by the midpoint of the school year.

    4) In the past I've awarded scented stickers for every quiz they take where they earn 80% or higher, but this year I'm going to use a 100s chart to set a class goal. Each time a student makes an 80% or higher on a quiz they'll get a square to cover a number on our 100s chart. When we fill the whole chart (as a class) they'll get some kind of award like a pajama day where they get an extra long DEAR time or something.

    *I might have pics of my thermometers and lily pads that I can post if you'd like to see them.
     
  18. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2010

    I love this idea!! I am going to "steal" your idea. I really tried to stress 80% comp last year but it didn't work very well. This sounds like a great way to get students involved. Hopefully they will encourage each other to reach 80% comprehension. Thanks for the idea!
     
  19. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 23, 2010

    I've seen some big AR schools. We do Reading Counts, which is similar, and we are about average. My class has been above average the last two years, but at the same time, I focus on the real reading skills and let the rest take care of itself. AR as well as Reading Counts only asks ten "trivia questions", technically, from the book. I honestly do not know where it improves student performance dramatically. This article from Angela Bunyi basically sums it up: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_tea...e-school-way-and-the-real-way-match-up-1.html

    I basically tell my students, "Don't ever, ever, ever disregard a book if it is not in Reading Counts." Some parents actually discourage their kids from reading books that are not "in the system", which saddens me because phenomenal literature is out there. Last year, I had a boy (an amazing reader) read Monster Hunters from Dean Lorey. I told him, "It's perfectly fine to give it a chance seeing it's not on Reading Counts. Read what you want to read, read where your heart leads you." And that he did, always. He was faithful to his genre (fantasy), though he branched out and read some new literature as well. This post makes me think about him because he is quite the advanced reader; he reads a few years above grade level and always has. He has read since age 4, I believe. Yet something like AR/Reading Counts isn't going to spark his reading... it's his passion for books and imagination in the first place that leads him to a certain book. Even with me telling him that choosing those particular books didn't matter, he still earned the most points in the class. Did it matter? No, not really. Sure, it was a very decent accomplishment... about 350 points. I mentioned him in the class newsletter. The librarian let him choose prizes, which excited him, generally, but he had a love of reading in the first place and with or without a computerized system, his passion would have remained the same, I believe.

    I think the biggest thing is encouraging your students to read and having a strong classroom library in the first place. Have your students make book recommendations and promote books. It makes all the difference.

    To comply with the school's promotion of the program, however, I do host a Feed and Read event where students come once a month after school for pizza and read books in one sitting that they test over. They love it. I have drawings that encourage the kids and give away reading-related gifts, most of the time. However, it does not change my students' passion for reading, and it's rather a fun social event for them. I would never prefer for testing over everything you read, and in limited questions generally at the bottom of Bloom's Taxonomy, to be my primary reading focus.
     
  20. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 23, 2010

    I love the Harry Potter set-up, by the way. I think it's creative and beautiful. However, I had my dissertation of the year. :whistle: :soapbox:
     
  21. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2010

    I agree that AR or Reading Counts is not going to simply improve a student's ability to learn how to comprehend what they are reading. I also teach skills to my students on how to comprehend text during readers workshop. However, I do like AR as I have seen a few of my students gets hooked on reading just because of AR. I encourage my students to take tests, but I don't force it on the students. I do set up individual and class goals. I think AR is just one small portion of reading, but it is not going to teach reading skills. That is my job.
     
  22. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 23, 2010

    I agree. My students are involved, but I have never really pushed it, and I have heard where the effects weren't as long-term. I've just seen where kids have been pushed and their passion wasn't necessarily genuine. It has encouraged reluctant readers a bit. The Feed and Read nights have worked really well as I mentioned, though, or any read-a-thon of sorts that you can have with your students in pajamas in a comfortable setting. I bet, 100%, you're awesome with reading; I hope you didn't take any of what I typed to offense.
     
  23. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2010

    No offense taken! :cool:
     
  24. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 23, 2010

    I'm nice! I promise! :)
     
  25. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    Jul 30, 2010

    I have been working on my AR forms for next year. My students are required to keep data binders, and I am required to keep data on the whole class. After reading some of the ideas here, I went back to school and found out that my principal is having a racing theme for the entire school, so I decided to go with this as my classroom theme. I am currently working on my bulletin board, and I will post that picture as soon as I am done. If you would like to see the forms I created, please go to this link:

    http://www.leapinginto5thgrade.com/dataforms.htm

    The race to 80 form is for when a student receives an 80% or higher on his/her AR test. Once the class reaches 50, I will have a special treat for the class. I am doing this because it is written in our school plan that students reach 80% comprehension.

    Thank you for all of your wonderful ideas! They were great!
     

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