Saturday, October 13, 2007

Motivating Readers

I've heard about the great training that Renaissance Learning (the company that owns Accelerated Reader) provides, but this afternoon I was finally able to take part in that training. It was so refreshing to hear RL speak about best practices for Accelerated Reader.

There are many schools that have not used the program in the manner it was designed (and I'm not speaking just about our school district- I believe that it is widely misused). Instead, it is treated as THE reading program at a school and the world seems to revolve around points.

Today, RL representatives reminded us that the program should be used to motivate students to read and that AR is simply the PRACTICE reading portion of a reading program.

Some other best practices of AR:
  • Point goals should be set for each individual student, based on the ZPD reading range and the amount of time that student will be able to practice reading AT SCHOOL.
  • Teacher intervention and teacher/student conferencing should be happening daily, including after each test. This teacher intervention is CRITICAL to the successful use of AR.
  • ZPD (reading range) is actually not correlated to "grade level" range. Students should not be restricted to the books in this level, but teacher/student conferencing and guidance can help make each reading experience a successful one.
If these things are happening, students should be successful (85%+ correct on AR tests), and therefore most all of our students would earn rewards for meeting their goals. (And this doesn't have to be costly prizes! Think FREE when thinking about motivational "prizes"!!)

The goal is to foster the love of reading. We have to keep our eye on the ball and always keep in mind that the purpose of AR is to motivate readers and encourage the practice of reading as part of the reading program.

Making a successful change in the mindset of teachers and administrators will require patience (as we can't expect huge changes overnight), staff development (like today's), and committed leadership who will expect and encourage best practice usage of this program.

I'm excited about the possibilities!
Cross Posted at ITS Here For You

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