AR opinions

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by Tch4th, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. Tch4th

    Tch4th Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 19, 2004

    Reading scores are not the greatest in our upper elementary and primary grades and we have begun looking at AR as an incentive program. (Our lower grades are using basals and the upper grades- 4th and 5th - are using literature sets.) Our librarian, however, does not believe that it is very effective and that it simply costs too much. I am looking for the opinions of those that have used it for more than six years. Is it worth the time, expense, and trouble or do we need to come up with something else?
     
  2.  
  3. mommaruthie

    mommaruthie Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    Messages:
    3,013
    Likes Received:
    1

    Oct 19, 2004

    I have NOT heard from anyone who has used the AR for more then six years.
    My sister is a media specialist at a middle school, with esol students and regular students who scored very low on AR but at least the accomodations and books are available to them to make progress, and feel good about themselves for improving. It is an excellent program considering the program was adopted by the elem. schools in the area that feed into the middle school. Its a great continuation, and it makes the media specialist offer suggestions based on a child's level.
     
  4. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Messages:
    6,699
    Likes Received:
    66

    Oct 19, 2004

    We use AR at my school and I absolutely love it! I have seen the growth in my children's reading scores as they improve their AR scores. For example, last year I had T as a student. He failed almost all his reading tests. He got into a competition with another child and began to really push himself. He ended up being the top reader in my class and making A's on his reading tests. The main thing, is to be sure that you monitor the books that they read and that they are reading on their reading level (which may not be their grade level). There is an additional program, Star Literacy, that allows children to test and determine their reading level. The books at the library will need to be leveled as well. Once they test, they will have a range of books to read (ex: 3:1 to 3:9). That assures that they are truly working on their comprehension. It is a wonderful program!
    Christy
     
  5. cmbogner

    cmbogner Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2004
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 19, 2004

    My previous school used it and we all loved it. The school even had special incentives for everyone the made their goal.(Goals were based on the individual...not the classroom as far as points go.) Some incentives were 1st quarter-going to the movies 2nd-ice cream sundae party 3rd-beach party in the gym 3rd-movie party 4th-school carnival with the principal getting a pie in the face by the top AR winner. It really motivated the kids to read and each classroom teacher gave out awards such as pencils, bookmarks, & awards. All AR winners would get their name in the paper. It was a great system & the school I'm at now does not have it...I've totally seen the difference and wish my school would return to AR.
     
  6. readerbee

    readerbee Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2004
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 19, 2004

    I am a reading specialist and we have used AR in my elementary school for about 5 years. We love it! It serves as the independent reading component of a balanced reading program and is an effective incentive for many students.
    I have found that even the most reluctant readers begin to enjoy reading. They want to read all the time! After a while students begin to realise just which books are at their reading level. They can choose their own books and have success at their independent level. Getting an AR library together takes some time and may be a draw-back at first but by working with your librarian and pooling classroom libraries, you can build an assortment of AR books. If you carefully choose the titles disks you buy, you can get quizzes for books that you already have. You can even have custom titles disks made. There are also two programs that serve as computerized assessments. STAR Early Literacy tests the domains of Phonemic Awareness and STAR Reading gives you a reading level. You can use STAR Reading along with AR to determine students' reading levels. We have found it worth the time, expense and effort. I agree with ChristyF...It is a wonderful program! I hope this helps.
     
  7. camcdade

    camcdade Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 19, 2004

    AR - No thank you!

    My district has changed over to a balanced literacy reading program. Before that, some of our schools used AR as part of their reading program. My opinion of the program is different from those above and I'll try to explain why. (This has actually been a pretty big "hot button" topic in my area for years!) Several teachers in my school have used AR for years, and I have used it in the past. As time passed, I began to change my opinion of it as I noticed some of the longer term effects on my students. At first, it may seem like it is really encouraging students to read. But, eventually I found that my students weren't really reading because they wanted to read or because they were developing a life-long love of reading, but rather they wanted to "get the points" or "earn a prize". Many teachers may think, "So what's the problem? At least they are reading!" Well, it's just my personal belief that I would rather find a way to instill some intrinsic motivation to read in my students rather than these extrensic motivations, like getting points or prizes. When AR was developed, it was intended to be only PART of an overall reading program. It was meant to assess independent reading only, and I know a lot of teachers who are not using it that way. They have allowed it to become their entire reading program, which I couldn't disagree with more. The questions asked on the AR tests are pretty low-level, basic understanding questions, not those higher-order thinking questions our students need. It is very expensive to buy all the tests for the books (and the books for the tests) and the upkeep for our librarian was immense. We are now downplaying AR at my school and I am so glad. It used to hurt my heart when we would be in the library checking out books and I would show a student a book that I thought they might enjoy. They would flip it over and look for an AR sticker. If the book didn't have a sticker, they simply wouldn't check it out because it wouldn't help them earn the points or goal they were working for. That really made me realize that we were totally missing the point of reading instruction. Now, we are using balanced literacy techniques, like literature circles (or book clubs), guided reading, and shared reading to introduce students to quality literature that we use for instruction in the classroom. I do understand that many teachers really believe in AR, but that has not been my experience.
     
  8. AngelaS

    AngelaS Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Messages:
    688
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 21, 2004

    I agree with the postor above. My school uses AR but I do not. The kids know their AR levels and check out books accordingly most of the time, but they don't have to, and I don't give them the tests. The reward for reading is being able to enjoy a good book, IMO. If a child does not like to read books, s/he can start with joke books, comics, magazines, environmental print, books without words, and so on until his or her confidence and interest is up.

    I know a lot of teachers like AR, and I'm glad it works for them. There is very little in education that works with every school in every grade in every classroom, and AR is no exception. We all have to do what is best for our individual circumstances.
     
  9. kingsworker

    kingsworker Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    189
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 22, 2004

    I've noticed that the teachers at our school don't push AR, either. We're a private school and only have a very small library. Fortunately, our public library is only about 5 mins. from the school and they have AR available for the kids that want to do it (or whose parents want them to do it). We prefer to keep baskets of books in our rooms. These are sorted according to reading level. Most books that we buy come from book orders like the kids take home or from bookstores that will advertise the reading level on them. For example, I have 3 different grades in my class so I have a basket for each grade. In each basket is (or will be when I'm done) a variety of levels, like early 4th, intermediate 4th, and advanced 4th. I'm also thinking of putting in very early 4th which will actuallly be on a 3rd grade level to help out one of my slower readers. I just mark each different book with a colored dot sticker (like those used for yard sale pricing) and the kids know what color dots to look for. As they feel more confident or want to challenge themselves, they move up to the next color. So, even if your school doesn't agree w/ AR you can still come up with a system that encourages and challenges your students. Every so often, I even like to ask them to try a challenge book, but only when I know they can succeed, but just are afraid to try it. It's nice for them to suddenly realize, "I DID IT!"
     
  10. turboteach

    turboteach Companion

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2002
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 22, 2004

    I have to agree with AngelaS and camcdade!
    My experiences have shown me that AR becomes a "read for points/rewards" rather than for reading. PLEASE DON'T GET ME WRONG, I KNOW that there have been children that, under different circumstances, would have not read otherwise...but it sends the wrong message to the rest of them. I am a firm believer in Afie Kohn's work...look into his books if you want to find out a little more about the topic of employing reward systems in the classroom.

    I also found that in the primary grades, where parents signatures are required for "proof" of reading time, many parents fudged the "scores". We actually took an anonymous poll in my Reading Education class and found that even many "teacher" parents would rush through the reading log "verifying" that their child(ren) had read for the prescribed times. What does that tell you?! Many of them argued that the teachers put undue stress on the children to perform at a specific level (ie. would get to participate in a "fun Friday" event, like a movie for "X" number of minutes)...the education parents knew that their child(ren's) reading was "close" to the required, so signed it so the child wouldn't miss out! One parent even exclaimed that in the beginning she was honest with the reading log; her child was the ONLY student to miss out on the "fun Friday" event! How did that make her feel? You can't tell me that she was the only one who DID NOT read for the required minutes that week!? What does this teach our children about honest reporting?! :confused:

    The fact of the matter is, with the way many schools utilize AR, a great deal of the responsibility falls on parents (reporting on the AR log). I even heard some children say, "Oh, well my Mom didn't fill it out this morning!" This needs to change! We need to instill in our students the love of reading (or doing anything) for the sake of doing it....if we keep rewarding students for doing what they should be doing already, we are creating "a gimme-gimme monster"...

    There's my two-cents!! :D
     
  11. Tch4th

    Tch4th Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 22, 2004

    Thank you to everyone for your prompt replies. We feel the same way as many of you--we don't want them reading solely for an extrinsic reward. We want to set quarterly goals that are rewarded with something like a beach party and then a goal for the year where they get to go to McD's or whatever. Please keep your opinions coming!

    Thank you!
     
  12. SMILE =)

    SMILE =) Guest

    Oct 22, 2004

    I agree!!

    "At first, it may seem like it is really encouraging students to read. But, eventually I found that my students weren't really reading because they wanted to read or because they were developing a life-long love of reading, but rather they wanted to "get the points" or "earn a prize". "

    I TOTALLY agree! I've had so many kids not even look at the book, but the number of points on the spine. Everytime a book is read to them, or we're starting a new book in our Reading class, the first question they always ask is, "is this AR?". They're not interested in the book, only if they're going to get credit for it through AR. I never enjoyed reading until I was older, and I am now reading all of the books I never did when I was a child. I've read so many wonderful books that I would love to share with the students in my class, but unless it's AR, they're not interested. What happened to reading for enjoyment?
     
  13. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,809
    Likes Received:
    190

    Oct 22, 2004

    We used AR in my class 1st grade last year. The students were not able to read an AR book unless the were at a level 10 in their personal level during our Title 1 time. Once they got there they were able to read AR after completing the rest of their work and I would ask that they read it at least 3 times. I NEVER had anyone ask is that AR about a book I read!!! The students loved it and I don't think they really thought about the prizes, but more about getting on the computer I used to take the tests!!!


    We also did BOOK IT from Pizza Hut that we would send home!!! I usually would get about 10 (if that) back out of 24. But this was a way to encourage reading at home!!! I made a big deal of it!!! When the student filled up the picture they had to color (So we knew they were reading) I would post them in the room!!!

    Just thought I'd add my 2 cents!!!
     
  14. kingsworker

    kingsworker Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    189
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 22, 2004

    Oh my goodness, I'd forgotten all about Book It! I remember doing that when I was in school. I loved it! Of course, my mom loved to read and I kind of picked that up from her, so it was no time at all until I had all my stars on my pin and got my pizza. Good memories! :)
     
  15. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Messages:
    6,699
    Likes Received:
    66

    Oct 23, 2004

    We have a seperate Basal based reading program, AR is just a supplement. I agree that in the perfect world, kids would read simply because they wanted to. Unfortunately, for many there is just no drive, no desire to. AR provides that incentive. I have a massive library in my room and only about 1/4 of it is AR, the rest is fiction and non-fiction. The kids read all types of books, not just AR. I encourage their varied reading. I stand behind AR, though, for what it does for their reading comprehension. Whatever it takes to get them reading is worth it, once they are reading, that is when it is my job to open their eyes to all the wonderful books out there.
    Christy
     
  16. lindalou

    lindalou Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 25, 2004

    Watch out for things like this! I teach first grade and I have difficulty using AR in my classroom b/c they can't read well enough yet...so we take the tests whole group. What I wanted to share is what happened to my son when he was in fourth grade. He was sent to lunch detention continually b/c he was reading The Lord of the Rings (no AR test in our school for that) instead of the AR book he had checked out of the library. The boy was in the gifted program and reading at high school level, sitting quietly during reading, but reading THE WRONG BOOK. Since AR was a big part of their reading grade, his reading grade was low. Did this teacher need to get "out of the box" or what?

    I over heard one fifth grader at the beginning of the year tell another they didn't have to read yet b/c AR wasn't up yet...

    I don't care for AR, but the poster who said not every educational program is for everyone hit the nail on the head.
     
  17. Teacheskidz

    Teacheskidz Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2003
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0

    Oct 25, 2004

    Ar

    At my school, AR is used as a supplement. When they reach 10 points they get a laniard. Then they earn pins to put on it. Each quarter the children who reach a certain goal of 15-20 points at 80% accuracy(depending on grade level) get to attend an AR party put on by the librarian. The children look forward to this and get to watch movies, make crafts and eat treats. I also have little tickets that the kids fill out after they take a test and I have my own AR drawing and reward those kids. We don't have a lot of time to do AR this year, and I rely on the kids to read at home for the most part and just come to school to test. The ones that read regularly do a really good job. The ones that don't read, I think the parents need to get involved more at home and make it a priority. :love:
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. CRMJetty
Total: 155 (members: 1, guests: 135, robots: 19)
test