Thursday, June 19, 2008

What Accelerated Reader Had Right

Reading programs are being used all across the country. My school district currently is using three programs (yeah, that's it right, only three?), the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), which is more of a diagnostic, Guided Reading, which is the foundational model of our reading program, and some schools use Accelerated Reader (AR), a student driven read/test/reward computer based program that I have used in my school. The decision to use AR was up to individual schools, and those schools used either Title I money or other money to purchase the software and set up the school library.

AR does take a lot of work at the onset if you want to do it right. Our school library had to be set up around AR, so all the books in the library were labeled with the grade level, which reads showing the grade level, a decimal point, and then the month in that grade level the book would be considered "most appropriate." (example: 5.4 means 5th grade 4th month)

Students take books, read them, then get on the computer and take the test for that book, and get points. They then use the points to get prizes. Of course, that end of it is more teacher driven, the teacher would have to fill out the prize request and give it to the Title I lab in the building, at least in my building.

So to make a long story short, my school is finally doing away with AR, and as I explained in yesterday's post, this has caused me to invent my own student choice reading program, which is a good step. AR had some things right, but there's always room for improvement.

I have always had my students take the AR test, do reading journals (not daily, I have them do at minimum 2 for every 100 pages read), and a book report. This year, I'm going to push that more, and include technology (more on that later this summer).

For now, I just want to focus on what AR had right. I like the book levels that AR utilized. Students had a basic understanding of a book, either if it was going to be too easy or too difficult before sitting down with it. I will be using AR book leveling in my new made up program.

I also like the reward component of AR. Yes, students SHOULD read for fun, and should enjoy the process. I have found that in starting my own classroom library that more students are enjoying reading, and have found that to be a reward in itself. There is good in having them set goals and get rewarded when they meet them. This gives room for students who normally wouldn't read to take part, and for those awesome readers to get some validation, so I will be using a reward component as well.

Finally, AR encouraged students to read a wide variety of books across a wide variety of levels. I will encourage this also. AR is a good program that is still out there. If you have the time and the support of your entire building, I'd go for it, if not, there are pieces of it that you can use on your own.


sasraider said...

Hi There,

Try It has the same benefit as AR, but it is free (and has it's own prizes).
Good Luck!