What is Accelerated Reading? Why do we use it? What does it look like? How does my child use it?
What is it? Accelerated Reading is a web-based service that enables children to quiz and answer questions on books that they have read, in order to test their understanding (comprehension).
How does it help us? As adults, we often read with children and ask them questions to test their understanding. Accelerated Reading aims to do something similar, when children are reading independently (without an adult), whilst providing us with some useful data (information) about a child's unsupported success as a reader. It also enables us to try to encourage, motivate and challenge children, by setting them personal targets for each half-term and ensuring that they are reading at the right level.
Who takes part in Accelerated Reading? We begin introducing our more advanced readers to Accelerated Reading in year three. Then, in years four to six, most children will have access to Accelerated Reading, as long as it is appropriate to the needs of the child.
Where and when should children be reading and quizzing? Whilst we try to provide time at school for children to read and quiz, the reality is that there is not sufficient free-time in the school timetable for our children to be successful, if they only read at school. This is especially true, when children have progressed to thick chapter-books, which take significant time to read. All children who take part in AR, have the ability to bring a book home, to make sure that they are regularly reading and progressing through their book. Furthermore, by clicking on the hyperlink button here or on the individual class pages, they also have the ability to quiz from home.
What is a ZPD? The ZPD (or Zone of Zone of Proximal Development) or ATOS level, tells us what ability-level each child should be reading at. The ZPD is generated when a child completes a STAR test at school, consisting of a series of reading-based multiple-choice questions, which are completed within a time limit. If a child finds that their ZPD is too easy or too hard, they can speak to their teacher about completing a new STAR test, in order to review their ZPD. However, we also try to complete a STAR test at least once a term, to ensure the accuracy of the ZPD and to reflect children's progress.
How often should my child quiz? This is very much up to the discretion of the class teacher and is adjusted to the needs of each child, although I can give you a general idea:
- For children reading thinner, more easily accessible books, the idea would be to quiz at least once or twice a week.
- As children move on to slightly little thicker, early chapter books (i.e. reading at a higher level), we generally expect children to quiz once every 1-2 weeks.
- By the time that children have reached thick, more advanced, sophisticated chapter books, we would expect children to quiz every 1-3 weeks, depending upon the size of the text. However, there is a danger that if children take too long to read a book, or choose one that is too advanced (i.e. outside of their ZPD), that they will struggle to quiz on the book and become disheartened.
How does Accelerated Reading fit in with our Reading Ambassadors Scheme? Put simply, any reading that a child does with a parent can contribute to a child's tally of 'reads', be it from an Accelerated Reading Book, a book from home, school or a local library. Whilst we like the children to quiz on their own, it is perfectly fine to read with them and ask a few extra questions, to aid their understanding. Reading with an adult is a powerful experience for children, as they tend to bring their 'A-game' to the table!
What if my child is worried about achieving their target? The key with everything we do in school is to encourage, motivate and challenge children, but not to make them worry unnecessarily. They have no need to worry as there are no negative-consequences for any children, who don't achieve their target -it just something a reasonable objective for them to aim for. Children only need to understand that it is the school's way to challenge them into becoming a regular reader and to make progress.
What if I have further questions? Your first point of contact should always be your child's class teacher, as they will know your child best and deal with their day-to-day learning.
If you find that having approached the class teacher, you still have some questions remaining, please feel free to contact me via telephone through the office staff (my preferred option), at the end of the day via my year five classroom, or via email (allowing reasonable time for me to read and respond to your communication).
Thank you for all of your help in supporting and encouraging our children. By helping them to become better readers, not only will their knowledge, skills, confidence and resilience all grow, but it will make so many other facets of their daily lives far easier!
Year Five Teacher and Accelerated Reading lead