Jonna Williams’ Hyde Park first graders are over-the-moon excited about reading, thanks to the school’s student-centered Accelerated Reader (AR) program that lets them choose great books that interest and engage them -- then rewards them for progress and comprehension mastery through fun events and celebrations.
According to Dr. Henry Scott, Denison ISD Superintendent, the district’s AR program has been incredibly successful for many years because it interactively fosters a life-long love for reading.
“The AR program has withstood the test of time because it puts students in the driver’s seat, allowing them to choose books that pique their interest, read and test at their own pace, and advance through increasingly difficult reading levels comfortably and confidently,” said Scott. “Our goal as educators is simply to guide, encourage and engage them at all reading levels, motivate them to practice reading regularly, track their growth and progress…and keep it fun through rewards and celebrations.”
Jonna Williams’ first graders recently shopped for prizes and goodies in a twice-yearly AR store set up in the Hyde Park Library, using AR “points” earned throughout the year to pay for their purchases.
“The AR store events in January and May are activities that our readers look forward to all year long,” said Williams. “They continuously read AR books and pass tests on each of them throughout the school year, allowing them to earn as many AR points as they can. They also have a points goal that is set by the teacher that lets them work toward earning the “Tiger Reader Award” each 9 weeks. Our first graders also earn an owl on their grade level Reading Tree for every 30 points they earn. All these things provide great incentives for the kids to work hard and improve their reading skills. Most of the books they read are worth about 0.5 points, so it takes a lot of reading and testing well to accumulate enough points to shop.”
Williams says the ongoing pandemic has also impacted this year’s AR program. “Because our last school year was cut short, many of my students had Kindergarten points that they got to roll over and use this year. And regardless of points, every child gets a free book that has been donated to the AR store…which encourages them to keep reading and working hard.”
“I had a couple of students with over 50 points to spend this year!” added Williams. “I have a very strong class of readers, and I love that they have such great incentives and motivation to keep reading!”
Houston Principal Kyle Uber credits the AR program’s Personalized Student Goals with helping students stay focused on quantity and quality of reading, while teachers analyze feedback and data.
“The daily reading and testing that earns those coveted AR points motivates students to read often, practice at home, and work hard to retain what they read,” said Uber. “It also allows teachers to easily track student progress and evaluate data according to state-specific learning standards.”
“Our ultimate goal is to create a culture of reading that will successfully serve our students throughout their lives,” added Uber. “When we’re reading, we’re learning…which is why Accelerated Reader is so beneficial and successful for our students.”
Teacher Jonna Williams’ Hyde Park first graders patiently waited their turn to shop in the school’s Accelerated Reader store. “Our students continuously read AR books and pass tests on each of them throughout the school year, with the goal of earning at least five points in order to shop,” said Williams. “Most of the books they read are worth about 0.5 points, so it takes a lot of reading and testing well to accumulate enough points.”
Hyde Park first graders recently shopped the wide array of prizes and goodies available for purchase using AR reading points earned throughout the year. “I had a couple of students with over 50 points to spend this year!” said teacher Jonna Williams. “I have a very strong class of readers, and I love that they have such great incentives and motivation to keep reading!”
Houston Elementary librarian Marian Evans recently awarded a prize to a third grade student who achieved a reading goal on the school’s “I AM A READER!” bulletin board. “Our ultimate goal is to create a culture of reading that will successfully serve our students throughout their lives,” said Principal Kyle Uber. “When we’re reading, we’re learning…which is why programs like Accelerated Reader are so beneficial and successful for our students.”
Daily reading in Houston’s library has required new safety procedures during the pandemic, according to librarian Marian Evans. “Students must first sanitize their hands, then sit on assigned spots that are socially distanced, wearing face masks at all times,” said Evans. “They must also sanitize their hands again before leaving. We want all our great readers to keep reading…but to also stay safe and healthy!”