Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What is the AR (Accelerated Reader) program?

"I keep hearing about AR or Accelerated Reader. What exactly is it?"

Accelerated Reader is a computer program that allows children to take quizzes (short tests) on books they have read. Each child takes his/her own quiz, using his/her user name and password (student ID number).

Mrs. Rausch, our school's librarian, maintains our Accelerated Reader program. She labels all of the library books that correspond with the AR program and also has computers in the library that can be used to access the AR quizzes.

How does it work?
A child selects a book with an AR label within their Reading Zone (see below). After the book has been read, the corresponding quiz can be taken on the computer. The child types in his/her user name and password into the AR program. Next, he/she types in the book title and author's name in order to take the correct quiz. The quiz is in a multiple-choice format, requiring the child to read through each answer. When the quiz is completed, instant feedback is received in the form of a percentage, including an opportunity to see which questions were answered incorrectly. Points are awarded for passing a quiz.

Why is the AR a good program?
Research studies show that one of the best ways to increase reading ability, fluency, and comprehension is to read! When a child reads within his/her own reading level/zone, then improvement is most noticeable when reading books within that particular zone. Instant feedback is a high motivator for children.

What is my child's "Reading Zone?"

The "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD) refers to the ideal reading level range within which your child should select books. In Kindergarten, your child may be reading books up through the 1.8 levels. (0.3, 0.6, 1.2, etc.).

Traditionally, Kindergartners do not participate in the Accelerated Reader program here at Thorpe. Once we begin working on our reading skills in Room 28 (January–February), and have learned quite a few High Frequency Sight Words, the children will be able to read the books at the beginning AR levels. I will request that the children in my class be permitted to participate in AR so as to be able to become familiar with using the program. Points earned as a Kindergartner will be counted in the 1st grade year. It's all a big PLUS!

How is my child's reading level determined?
In 1st grade your child will take a test to determine a specific grade-level equivalent. For example, a level of 2.6 means that on the test, your child read and answered questions at the level of an average student in the sixth month of 2nd grade.

How can I determine if a book falls within my child's Reading Zone?
Most of the books from our school library are marked with the reading level and point value on the book spine as well as on the front cover. Not all books are AR-You may also visit the AR website to search for any book level on-line.

Click here ARBookFind
to browse all AR titles. Just type in the title (or author) of the book and click Go! to see if the book is an AR book. If it is, information will show up. You can click on the book's title and LOTS of information, including the AR level will show up. If the book is NOT an AR book, a message stating No matches found, please try again will come up. Remember, for Kindergarten, your child should be reading books with levels up to 1.8 (1st grade, 8th month).

I hear there are 'points.' What are they and what do you do with them?
Points are assigned to each AR book based on its length and level of difficulty. Children earn points based on their percentage correct on each quiz. Beginning in 1st grade, some teachers may even assign point goals for their students, however, most teachers focus on whether children are passing at 80% or above.

In Kindergarten, the goal is simply to read and enjoy reading!

(Special note: The points earned in Kindergarten do carry on to 1st grade! This means any points your child accrues in Kindergarten will be carried over to 1st grade and added to the points earned in 1st grade. Woo-hoo!)

Why would my child fail an AR quiz?

Uh oh...Perhaps he/she read the book too quickly or was not concentrating while reading. Maybe the book was near the high-end of his/her reading zone. It may be necessary to encourage your child to find a book closer to his/her reading zone.

Can students take quizzes on books above his/her reading zone?
AR quizzes are designed to test children on details found in books. When a child is reading a book with a level that is above his/her ability level, he/she may be concentrating more on decoding words and sentences and may lose the underlying meaning of what's being read.

Can my child take quizzes on books that are below his/her reading zone?
Yes! We all love to read books that are at our interest level. Some of these books are easy for us to read, and that is okay. To grow as a reader, however, children should challenge themselves with books that contain more difficult text. Children may take tests that are below their reading level, but parents should be concerned if children are reading a lot of "easy" books. The ultimate goal of AR is to motivate children to become good readers.

Are there AR quizzes for picture books?
Absolutely! There are quizzes for many picture books, many with reading levels as high as 5th or 6th grade.

Encourage your child to read. Set aside time every single day to read a book or to read from a book. Getting into the habit of reading daily now will help your child's educational success.

Can I find out what my child has done in the AR program?
Sure! If you want to see just how many points your child has accrued, what his/her latest 'grade' is, what book he/she recently took a quiz on, etc. then you can do this quite easily. The Renaissance Place Home Connect web-page provides all sorts of cool information; you can even print out a record of the books your child has read (the 'bookshelf').

All you need to know is your child's user name and password (user names will be sent home for homework). The password will be your child's student ID number.

To access AR Home Connect, click on ARHomeConnect

If your child cannot remember his/her AR user name or password (student ID), please email Mrs.S-S

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