Why Accelerated Reader?
Everyone at Greswold wants to foster and enhance our pupils’ attitude to reading. For several years we have worked with a system, called Accelerated Reader which helps motivate children to read and understand what they read. A lot of children can read the words but they are not able to recollect or comprehend what they had read. This system will help with all of these things and help them to value the library and choose books that are at a suitable level for them.
What is Accelerated Reader?
This reading scheme is offered by a worldwide company, called Renaissance Place. It is designed to help children to read more and to understand what they are reading. Every time children finish reading a book, they have the chance to take a 5 or 10 question quiz. This is done online and every detail of their progress is available to the teacher and support staff.
Accelerated Reader will be referred to as ‘AR’ below.
How does it work?
First, it is very important that children borrow books at the right level of difficulty for them. They take a STAR reading test. The score from this is called their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). For example a child with a ZPD of will achieve well if they read books with a Book Level between 2.2 and 4.5. To make choosing a book quicker for the children, they have been colour-coded on the spine and put together in collections.
The child with the ZPD of 2.2 to 4.5 would need orange books to start with. Once they had scored well on lots of orange books, they could try a yellow one, including some longer books. After this, they might try the green and yellow striped books. It is important that the child feels confident at one level before moving up to the next. The best reading progress is achieved when children score 100% for their quizzes.
How are books put into levels?
In many schools, books are gauged partly by the size of the type and partly by reading or glancing at the vocabulary. These are not the only things which make books easy to read. The length of sentences and the difficulty of the sentence structure can be quite a challenge to children, even when they recognise the words which they are reading.
Sometimes children can read or decode all the words in a text but they cannot explain what it is all about. If they read a book within their ZPD they are more likely to understand.
At Renaissance Place, every book is:
The books your child reads should have a book level in his or her ZPD in order to make real progress.
Renaissance Place then write a 5 or 10 question quiz on each book. There are nearly 25,000 of these now, so many of our children’s books can be quizzed. The scheme also operates in many secondary schools and so it will have texts from ‘Not Now Bernard’ to ‘War and Peace.’
Lastly books are given an Interest Level
Lower Years - LY
Middle Years - MY
Upper Years - UY
Older children who have low levels of reading ability, still need books to interest them. These may be less clear to very young children who are also beginning to read so they are marked UY. Labels are often inside the back cover.
What happens in school?
Children are given times each day to read their AR book. They will progress faster if they read at home as well. Every time they have finished a book, they can quiz on it and it is important that they quiz as soon as they can, while it is still fresh in their memories. The points they score for getting all or some of their quiz correct, mount up gradually and they achieve certificates and awards.
Every day your child should be allowed to quiz. Sometimes things are very busy in the classroom and a child will forget to quiz. The details of the book are then forgotten and the quiz is less successful. It is important to quiz as soon as a book is finished.
Every child can come to the library at break time to quiz. There are three computers there, overseen by Mrs Faulkner.
If your child complains that it wasn’t possible to quiz, suggest that they pop into the library for 5 minutes at break time. It will help.
The key to success is reading books at the right level for at least 20 minutes each day.
Your child could become a millionaire!
The number of words read also builds up. These are checked frequently and there is a very special certificate for pupils who have read a million words. In her first term, one pupil read one and a half million words. What a STAR Reader!
(As a guide ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ has a quarter of a million words in it.) However, it is more important to get high scores in quizzes than to read long books without really understanding.
The children should all feel that they can succeed, if they are reading books which challenge them but aren’t too difficult. The important thing is to try to get more than 85% in every quiz. That really shows that they have understood what has been read.
Each week, teachers monitor children’s progress and help them to find ways of improving their reading ability. Every child is being assessed on a daily basis. They also learn to log on to the computer, and work with decimals and percentages.
All in all, Accelerated Reader can teach them many things!
This is what two pupils said after only one term:
‘Accelerated Reader has really helped me because it has made me read the books properly and not skip pages because I am determined to get 100% on all the quizzes.’
‘When I first started trying Accelerated Reader, I was quite low in levels. The thing is when you just read a book with no challenge what’s the point? So I started to read bigger books. As I improved, I read books in a shorter time. I moved up slowly but steadily. The quizzes were hard but fun at the same time.’
And the staff:
‘Children are all discussing books as they walk up and down to the library. It’s lovely.’
‘The atmosphere in the Library has become very focused.’
How can you help at home?
• Make sure your child always has the Accelerated Reader book in school. It can be very off-putting to have to read something else during quiet class reading, because of a forgotten book which was left at home. Also they need to return one book before they have another.
• Encourage your child to read each evening, preferably in a quiet room where there are fewer distractions. If possible read with him/her and stop occasionally to ask a question. ‘Can you tell me what happened last?’ is good if he/she has already started reading at school, because it also helps you to understand what has happened so far.
• Ask how a quiz went. Children can often explain why they have scored less well. Listen and make suggestions on how things can be improved.
• Please don’t push your child to read the next colour/level before he or she is ready. It’s like going to the gym: you wouldn’t want to start with the biggest weights. Muscles have to be built up gradually with increasing practice and reading muscles are improved in a similar way. Children begin to take charge of their choices in a good way and usually they know the best level for them.
• Be positive about the system. If you make them feel that it is wrong in some way, this will undermine their confidence.
Frequently asked questions
Can my child quiz on the book he’s been given for his birthday?
Ask Mrs Faulkner to check OR log on to www.arbookfind.co.uk
Type in the title. If no result is found, then there may not be a quiz yet.
If there is a quiz and the book is within your child’s ZPD (see page 2-3), then they can take a quiz in school.
It might be helpful to write the quiz number down for them to save time for them in school. They should write the result in the reading log as normal.
What if the book has a higher level than they are reading now?
If it was a really good book which was enjoyed, then it is OK to take the quiz. Real enjoyment is often a key to good quizzing. However, if the quiz is not a success, then a lesson will have been learnt.
My child is reading a yellow book but her ZPD says she could read yellow-green. Why hasn’t she been allowed to?
It may be that she really wants to read this easier book. Perhaps someone recommended it. It may be that her quiz results weren’t so good when she read yellow and green. She needs to get confidence on that level before she moves on.
When can children quiz?
There are computers in every classroom for quizzing and all teachers schedule times during the school day, when it is possible to quiz and some children will come at the start of lunchtime 12.15-12.30. In addition, the library is open at first break for quiet reading and quizzing.
Can children quiz on the internet at home?
No. All quizzing takes place during school time.
Are there non-fiction AR books?
Yes, but they tend to be at higher levels and it is harder to achieve good results because of the way that we read non-fiction. However, we encourage children to try them too.
Can I still read to and with my child?
Yes. This is wonderful. Not only does your child’s reading benefit but so does your relationship. You sit close together, sharing something. You can talk about topics which are raised. You are also more in tune with what is going on.
If a child has read the majority of the book themselves, it is considered that it has been read independently.
Does the school need any help?
It is really helpful to offer regular assistance and we will always try to find useful tasks to benefit the school. Please ask.