The Accelerated Reader Reading Program
Choose Books at the Optimum Level
Whenever we practice a skill, we will get the most from our efforts if we work at the right level. The same principle applies to reading.
Practicing with books that are too hard results in frustration. Practicing with books that are too easy does little to improve skills and leads to boredom. With Accelerated Reader, we use the term zone of proximal development, or ZPD, to match students to appropriate books. Based on a concept developed by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the ZPD represents the level of difficulty that is neither too hard nor too easy and is the level at which optimal learning takes place.
Research shows that a student must already know 95 to 98 percent of the words in a book to comprehend it.
We found that 15 to 60 minutes a day of high-quality practice was associated with the greatest gains.
Use Various Reading Strategies
After choosing a book within the ZPD range the student sits down to read and completes various reading strategies.
For example, self-monitoring, where the students ask themselves “Do I understand what I am reading?”
Students are given sticky notes to flag passages they find hard to understand on first reading.
Then they discuss with the teacher how they could help themselves overcome the problem.
Another reading strategy is summarizing where, while reading, the student retells or summarizes the story in their notebook and periodically writes a sentence about what is happening in the story.
To help develop comprehension the student talks with the teacher about the book before reading and while reading, making predictions before reading and discussing what is happening while reading and continuing to make predictions about what will happen next.
Reading comprehension strategies are taught, and graphic organizers are provided to the student to practice the strategies and reinforce them during independent reading practice. Accelerated Reader gives students a tremendous opportunity to apply reading strategies as they practice reading.
Other Library Activities
Reading Aloud Time
Occasionally there is a reading aloud time, where the teacher teaches and models comprehension strategies, such as visualizing, making predictions, previewing, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing. This also presents good opportunities for discussions on vocabulary, characterization, and plot.
Informal book talks are a fun way to pique students’ interest in books. The teacher picks out a few popular titles and holds them up while saying a few things about each book aimed at enticing students to read it. They might read the first few sentences or pages if the beginning is particularly compelling.
Book Discussions and Literature Circles
Small-group discussions about favorite books and authors promote a reading culture.
Discussions can be formal activities (students give presentations on their favorite book) or
informal—a conversation among students who have read the same book, for example. Sometimes teachers give students sticky notes to mark passages they particularly like or find surprising, confusing, or funny. Another strategy is to give students prompts that will jump-start discussion, such as, “If I were this character, I would …,” “I liked the part where …,” or “I wonder ….”
After Reading Comprehension Check
And then, after reading, the student takes a quiz to test their comprehension of the book.
The student discusses the results of the test with the teacher and checks that he or she is on-track.
The student then confers with the teacher to decide on their next book choice.
The teacher also helps the student with finding the right books
A surefire way to turn a student on to reading is to introduce him to just the right book based on a student’s prior reading history, interest level, and reading achievement data.
Based on the results of the STAR assessment and also monitoring your child’s summaries and other handouts the teacher prepares customized lessons for the areas that your child needs help on each day. These could relate to grammar points, comprehension strategies, spelling, composition practice etc.
Reading Incentives for Students
We have found that prize systems encourage young students to read and to keep on reading.
The points that your child earns throughout the year are accumulated and can be used to earn prizes.
How Can I Monitor How My Child is Doing In the AR Program?
Visit the AR HOME CONNECT website and log in!
Home Connect allows you to view the quizzes your child has taken and their scores. You can register to receive e -mail updates each time your child takes a test, to see how many points your child has, and much, much more!