Accelerated Reader at Abbeywood Community School
“Our primary purpose is to accelerate learning for all children and adults, of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide.”
- Mission Statement, Renaissance Learning UK
Why do we want students to read?
What are the benefits of reading for pleasure?
- Children who say they enjoy reading for pleasure are more likely to score well on reading assessments compared to pupils who said they enjoyed reading less
- There is some evidence to show that reading for pleasure is a more important determinant of children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status
- It can have a positive impact on pupils’ emotional and social behaviour
- It can have a positive impact on text comprehension and grammar.
What works in improving independent reading?
- An important factor in developing reading for pleasure is providing choice - choice and interest are highly related
- Parents and the home environment are essential to the early teaching of reading and fostering a love of reading; children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued
- Reading for pleasure is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families.
What is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader (AR) is a really effective software tool used by an increasing number of schools to foster reading growth. It encourages students to read widely and independently whilst allowing staff to monitor progress and support where necessary.
The programme is designed to work out a reading level (or STAR reading level) for students at the start (by means of a STAR test, completed in English lessons). Students then read books within this level – all books in the library that are registered with AR have a coloured star label on the spine to help them recognise books within their ‘zone’. Students take a quiz on the website after reading each book to assess how well they understood it. Their STAR level is tested every other term to see how they have progressed.
As well as being about promoting reading and academic achievement, AR is also about enjoyment of reading and creating a real culture of reading at Abbeywood Community School.
Who takes part in AR at Abbeywood Community School?
All students in year 7 and 8 take part.
When does AR start?
Year 7 students will begin AR in the first term, through Literacy lessons. An English teacher will introduce and explain the programme and introduce STAR reading levels, the reading folder and independent reading expectations.
What is Home Connect?
Home Connect is a way for parents to log on to the website and see their child’s progress. They can sign up for email alerts about what their child is reading and their quiz scores. We have a launch for this too, after students have been taking part in the programme for a few weeks. This usually takes after Christmas.
How often does reading take place?
2-3 tutor sessions per week are designated reading days. This allows a day for assembly and another for a tutor group activity such as a quiz. It is really important that students have a good routine when it comes to reading in the mornings to ensure expectations are high and students are able to read independently.15 minutes goes quickly so routines help make the most of this period! In addition, students are required to read independently for the majority of their fortnightly Literacy lesson. Of course, we encourage students to read independently at home as often as possible.
What should Accelerated Reader sessions look like?
Students should all be reading independently or speaking to their teacher about their reading. Students will also work on activities in their reading folder (more information further down on this) independently.
What can I do to ensure my son/daughter has a good reading routine?
- Make it clear that the reading book is part of the student’s essential equipment and is expected in their bags every day.
- Reading is not a punishment but something we want to make fun and purposeful.
- Encourage your child to read at home!
- Come along to the launch of Home Connect and sign up – AR will email you with your child’s progress and you can even suggest good books to your son/daughter and place them on their ‘virtual bookshelf’!
How is the library used in Accelerated Reader?
There is a section in students’ reading folders on how the library is set out. Students are encouraged to visit the library before and after school, as well as break and lunch times. Teachers may also take students to the library during Literacy lessons. During these visits, students should read in silence, change their book or take a quiz.
How and when should students change their books or take quizzes?
They are allowed to use the library for AR activities at break or lunchtime, before or after school.
How are students rewarded for their reading?
- Each fortnight, students with the highest word counts are displayed on the plasma screens. We usually display the top reader in each year group and the top group in each year group. We also keep a running total word count for both year groups.
- The reward system has been streamlined and simplified to ensure students see rewards as frequent and highly visible. So each week, a small prize (sweet or Accelerated Reader based!) will be given to students in year 7 and year 8. This could be for a high amount of words or high number of quizzes taken as well as things like ‘good silent reading’, improved confidence/effort etc.
- At the end of the year, a raffle ticket is issued for every quiz that got 100% correct – so if a student reads ten books at this level, they will have ten tickets.
What is the reading folder for?
Each student will have a reading folder. Inside the folder will be a student guide to Accelerated Reader which will contain a logging in guide, a set of expectations and a range of activities
The booklet will have a range of activities in it that students will complete as the year goes on.
Students can also keep other AR related material in here – book reviews, books their friends have recommended etc.
What about STAR tests?
STAR tests will take place during three times per year. Students take them during English lessons. As soon as possible after the tests are over, I will generate new reading labels and give them to their teacher. Each student has TWO labels – one goes on the back of their iTag and the other on their reading folder.
Anything else I might need to know?!
- Keep an eye on what your child is reading - have they had the same book for a long time but aren’t getting very far?
If at any point you have a question or would like some support with improving your child’s reading, please don’t hesitate to contact me.