Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Accelerated Reader

Well, it is that time of year when the students are falling into their school routines and the teachers are finding their footing with their new group of kiddos.  In my classroom, I feel like we are mastering most of our letter sounds and at the point where we kick our reading journey into gear.  One component of our reading, is Accelerated Reader.  This program is used in every grade in my school.  For those of you not familiar with Accelerated Reader, let me tell you a little about it.
What is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader is in short a computerized reading management system.  Its unique system is used to motivate students to read, and track their achievements.  Students select a book of their choice and then take a computerized quiz on that story.  The quiz tests their comprehension on both literal and inferring questions about the story.  They are then given points on the outcome performance of that quiz.  Each student has a point goal, to which they aspire to reach by the end of each quarter.

That is a super short explanation of the program, but feel free to google it for more precise, detailed information.

Now, I gotta say, when I was told that this program was going school wide, as a Kindergarten teacher I was like...."say WHAT?"  I was apprehensive, but I gotta tell you, after a couple yrs under my belt and also making a few accommodations, I really, REALLY enjoy the program.  So, I'm going to tell you how I use it in my Kindergarten classroom.  My way certainly is not THEE way to do it for everyone.  Some may like it, some may hate it, some may just tweak it a bit to fit your classroom.  What works for one does not work for all, I realize that.

First, I had to tackle the issue of many of my kinder kids not being able to read independently yet, so HOW was I going expect them to do so and then take a comprehension quiz on it.  Then I thought, wait a minute the goal in Kindergarten has got to be different than the goal for AR in say 4th grade.  Kindergartners should be introduced to the AR program so they are familiar with it in the other grades.  As emerging readers, though, we can't put the pressure of point goals, at least not to start off with.  AR in itself tests on the reading comprehension of a story.  So to start with, my Kinders can have their books read TO them.  They can contribute with any sight words they may know and further into the year, may be able to read a book themselves, but to start with, they can have their book read to them by their parents.  We send a note home with our parents asking them to read it to the kids 3 different times, asking both literal and inferring questions about the story.  After that 3rd time, I feel like the kids would have a pretty good grasp on what the story is about, main idea, details, etc.  After the 3rd read, they send their books back in their AR folders to quiz on that book.

{In my classroom set up, this one folder couples as my storage for their guided reading books as well.}  

 I should mention that most lower level books on the AR program have the option of a voice recording reading the quiz questions to the students.  However, I still like to sit down with each Kinder and read them the questions myself.

And here comes the next issue I then am I going to sit down and read a quiz to each individual student?  There were times when 3/4 of the class was ready to quiz on the same day.  You can't make some wait til the next day b/c they might not retain the information or the story as well.  Lesson learned there.  I started assigning days of the week to help organize this a bit. The child's test day is put on the cover of their folder this year.

Side note:  I don't know about the rest of you, but I get sooooo tired of all the colored printed copies out there!  Don't get me wrong, they are ADORABLE and sometimes it is needed, but I don't have a colored printer at my school to access, so I have to improvise.  I made these black and white copies, glued them to the front of the folder and then laminated the entire folder.  I then took an exacto knife to cut the folder tabs apart.  Hopefully this makes these folders a little more durable as well.

I put together my class schedule who is testing on what days, so I have that reference readily available to me.  The parents now know to read the story 3X and send it back in to be quizzed on on their child's designated quiz day.  This system works really, really well for me.  I have decided to give new AR books once every 2 weeks, and then the class is divided into those 2 weeks following to test on the book.  This year, this means that I quiz 2 students per day and have the time to really sit down and evaluate that child's progress, strengths, needs, etc.  I love it.

I have put together some helpful organizational tools that help me keep parent's informed as well.  They are shown below.

I will send these sheets to home to parents after each AR quiz.  I keep these right on my computer station so after I read the quiz to the students, it is right there.

Also, inside their folders, I have a recording sheet that I will fill out when the child chooses their appropriate book geared at their level.

All these AR organization tools are available on my TPT store.  Click here to see the product.

In conclusion I will just say I think the AR program works very well when given appropriate, independent, and attainable goals set in place to help the child reach their best reading potential.

I hope this has helped some of you who may be looking for a way to incorporate this program into your classroom.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative! We have RP (pretty sure it's the same thing) in our district. This has helped me to adapt some of your tools into my procedures! Love it & thanks for sharing!!!

    Loving Teaching Inspiring