It’s been a while since I read that article in Education by Numbers that stated:
- mindlessly reading book after book does not benefit children very much
- it is comprehension that is the key to learning gains
In fact, a voracious reader who understands less than 65% of the content in the books he reads is no better off than a student who does not read much at all.
Back then, I didn’t know what else to do except work on comprehension. Now, there is a cool new programme that makes it all so much easier – Accelerated Reader.
What is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader is an online reading programme that helps children improve their reading skills. Here’s what it does:
- helps children choose suitable books based on their reading level
- encourages children to read independently
- quizzes children on what they have read
The quizzes test both comprehension and vocabulary so we know how much of the book they understood and if they know the meaning of the more challenging words in a particular book.
How does Accelerated Reader work?
The kids start with an online adaptive test to determine their current reading level. This is called the Star Reading test. This test provides a reading level range called a ZPD, or Zone of Proximal Development.
ZPD is a concept developed by Lev Vygotsky (psychologist) and refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. – Simply Psychology
Children are encouraged to read books within their ZPD range because these books provide the appropriate level of stretch and challenge. These books are more challenging than what the children can read easily, but not so hard that they become discouraged.
After reading a book, the kids can complete a short comprehension quiz to see how much of the book they understood. Based on how many questions they answered correctly, they will be given a percentage. The goal is to score 85% and above. Some books will also be accompanied by a vocabulary quiz which will check your child’s understanding of the more challenging words from the book.
Teachers can a reading target for the kids to achieve within a certain period of time. Each book they read (depending on the length and reading level) will add points towards their reading target. This motivates the kids to read more to hit their targets.
What Books are Available on Accelerated Reader?
The best thing about Accelerated Reader is that it uses books that are already readily available. You don’t have to purchase a special series of books and the kids are free to read many of their favourite series. The range of books available on Accelerated Reader is quite extensive. To find out if a particular book is on the programme, you can look it up using arbookfind.
After each period, the children can take the Star Assessment again to see if their reading level has improved.