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AR Strategies?


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#1 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:51 PM

DD is going into 2nd grade next year and will be required to earn AR points. 2nd graders must earn 15 points during the year with an 80% comprehension score. I believe there are 5 questions on the quiz so 80% means they must get 4 of the questions correct. In older grades, the comprehension score required increases to 85% which means that they must answer every question correctly. 

 

I can already tell that I will hate the AR program. I hate the idea of earning points for reading. I'm not sure whether school has access to every AR quiz or just a limited number and I don't know if they are allowed to read books that are not in the library. 

 

DD was supposed to take 2 "practice" AR tests in 1st. The teacher said that they had to read the book twice and then write about it before taking the test. DD checked a 1st grade out of the library that she has read many times. She has it memorized and recited it to me in the car on the way home. She insisted that she had to write the summary for the teacher even though she has the book memorized. She passed her first test. 

 

She checked out "Is Your Mama a Llama?" from the library for her second AR book. She told me that she didn't know how to write the summary of the book. I told her to write that the llama asks her friends if their mamas are llamas. The friends respond that their mamas are not llamas because they are not llamas. Easy, right? No. DD got upset. That wasn't a "where, when, why" to put into her summary. I told DD that I didn't care whether she took the 2nd AR quiz. DD wants to do what the teacher says. This is frustrating. I know that the teachers want to make sure that the children pass the test and writing a summary helps the child to prepare but it seems like a lot of wasted time to me. 

 

I know some of you have to deal with AR in your kids' schools. How do you deal with it? How bad is it? Do you help your child to choose books to read to help them achieve their points goal? Have any of you told the teacher that your children are not doing it? The program is not optional at DD's school but I cannot imagine that there would be any real consequences for not earning the points. 

 

Do you try to encourage your kids to earn their points at the beginning of the semester? 

 



#2 SKL

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:40 PM

I thought I'd hate AR, but it's not bad at all.

 

If the point values are consistent from school to school (I'm not sure about this), then the short books kids read in KG and early first are 0.5 points.  Magic Treehouse are 1 or 2 points, etc.  It will be very easy for your daughter to get 15 points in the 2nd grade.  My kids had to get more than that in 1st.  The stretch goal for 1st was 75 points (which both of my kids got).  2nd was either 75 or 100.  The only year my "average" kid didn't make the stretch goal was 3rd, and that was because the teacher was really picky about making the kids read at exactly their reading level.

 

The shorter books only have 5 questions, but the longer ones have 10 or 20.

 

What I observed is that it's easier to get a good score on a book with a real "story" vs. super simple or nonsense books.   (How do you write comprehension questions for Dr. Seuss etc?  The questions are stupid and random, so you can't really prepare for those tests.)

 

I didn't fuss with my advanced reader's AR at all, but for my slower reader, I had her read each of the short books 3x, or if it was challenging for her, I'd read it first, then she'd read it, and then I'd read it again.  Once she was into the chapter type books or more meaty storybooks, one reading was enough.  She actually scores better on the comprehension tests than her book fiend sister, perhaps because she takes in the stories more slowly.

 

Although 15 points should be very easy to get in 1 year, I learned that audiobooks can count, though in grades 1-3, I assume they would want the kids to do the actual reading as they are still in the "learning to read" stage.

 

As for which books you can test on, check out arbookfind.com.  You can probably test on any of the thousands (if not millions) of books on there.  Just look up your book and write down the AR number of the book.  Almost every kid book in print is in there, except for the newest ones.

 

I found a free Sylvan site that has book quizzes.  http://www.bookadven....com/Home.aspxNot sure how similar these are to AR, but they might help you prepare your daughter for these kinds of tests over the summer.  I plan on trying this with one of my kids, as an incentive to get her to read over the summer.  (I will bribe her for good scores.  Hey, whatever works.)


Edited by SKL, 18 May 2017 - 07:47 PM.

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#3 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:40 PM

At the school my kids attended kids at that age had to achieve 10 AR points every semester.  They didn't have to write summaries and no one suggested rereading a story.  They were just encouraged to read and test as rapidly as possible to earn their points.  Those points were part of their Language Arts grade and it was definitely not optional.  When the program first started all they had was a very limited library of test so kids had to use books from a very limited list to test on.  Later, the school purchased an on-line option that gave them access to a much larger library of tests which in turn gave the kids a much larger selection of books to choose from.  We were given the option to access the list to confirm books we were choosing from our home library or the public library or the book store had a matching AR quiz. For some kids it worked out very well.  For others it was a total nightmare.  One of the issues at our school was lack of computer access time to test.  If a child was a slower reader they might not have as many chances to test and might not have enough time to finish.

 

I do want to point out that some of the AR tests are poorly designed.  They may ask a question regarding some very minute detail that has little to do with the story itself.  Even the director of our school (who used to be an elementary school teacher) was unhappy with the questions on some of the tests.  My SIL also was not happy with some of the tests.  In fact, one AR test for a book that she has been reading since Middle School and dearly adores and had read many times to her own children had a question that she couldn't answer.  It was asking something so irrelevant to the story and so specific and only mentioned one time as an aside that she didn't even know what the question was referring to.  If your child seems to know a story well but does poorly on a particular AR test, don't assume that it was your child's error.  It may very well have been the test.  Hopefully your child will have enough chances to read and test on books that one or two poor results won't affect her situation overall.  How often is she allowed to read and test on the reading?  


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#4 Ordinary Shoes

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:03 PM

I'm not sure about how often she will be able to do a test. I know it has to be done in the library and that sometimes the children do not have access to the computers. I assumed she can read at home. If it has to be at school, that could be a problem.

 

 



#5 SKL

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:15 PM

The reason I like AR is that it's the only thing at our school that is really individualized to each child.  They read what interests them, at the reading levels that are comfortable for them, when and how much they want (assuming the minimums are easy to reach).  In our school, kids can test almost every day if they want to.  They have recognition for kids who reach the "stretch goal," so at least some kids are motivated to do that.

 

My kids were given "free reading" time in school every day, but were also allowed to test on books they read at home.  The main restriction was that there was a "ZPD" (zone of proximal development), say, reading levels 1.5 to 2.5, within which they were supposed to choose books.  (arbookfind.com will give you the RL for each book, so you know in advance.)  The ZPD was based on a test they took at the beginning of each quarter.  If they wanted to test on a book above or below that range, they could ask the teacher to override the constraint.  The teachers can set a minimum ZPD only, a maximum only, or no ZPD if they want the kids to have more freedom.

 

So far my reader has tested on 900 books in AR, LOL.  They are all logged since 1st grade and I can look and follow the progress.  It's kind of neat, if the teachers are reasonable about how they set it up.


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#6 vonfirmath

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 12:16 AM

My son never really liked testing. He's an avid reading -- but following up with tests? didn't happen.  He managed to do enough to keep his teachers happy (Well, except for the third grade teacher who wanted to keep his Most AR points trophy he'd had several years in a row and really couldn't understand why my son, who he claimed was the best reader in the class, wasn't really helping.  But even he didn't push unduly once he realized DS -was- reading (and at a pretty high level) -- just not following up with tests.

 

My daughter is just finishing K and has been taking tests since... February or March?  But not passing many of them, it seems :( I do find the AR scores a good judge of which books she is going to be able to read. A 1.4 book she can read easy. 1.8 or 1.9 is going to be difficult for her and need more parent help.

 


Edited by vonfirmath, 19 May 2017 - 12:17 AM.


#7 Heigh Ho

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 09:05 AM

AR is easy if its not made into a winner takes.all competition
25 books or 25 points was.the goal here in 2nd, with everyone readng in their zpd. With 40 weeks in the school year, a test each week works for your goal.
The difficulty is access to testing and access to books and that depends on the teacher and school. Testing requires time, and a particular school.day may not have it. It also requires the ability to read the questions, which sometimes are more difficult than the book. The teacher will tell you the policy at the beginnng of the year. It also requires access to a computer, so if there isn't a computer for every student there will be a line. Reading requires books and time to.get.those books. Librarians were cut here when.the library was turned into a.classroom, so teachers went in and brought a box of books back to their classroom to chose from,then swapped with another teacher the next month. No books could leave the school. That went over like a lead balloon, so students would bring books from.home or public library.

Best advice is have your child decide on his.goal,.then break it down into chunks. Worked better for my sons to pick up books for 25ยข each at the library thrift shop, bring them back and forth, test, and pass them onto a friend. The wealthy schools here allow their students to bring and use their e-readers.

One tip is read non fiction at the lowest level in the zpd. Students have to use their memory and it helps to read those books twice. The effort really pays off when fourth grade arrives. Our school eventually went to asking for half fiction, half non fiction. Hit the. Public library for these if your school is skimpy..lots of interesting nonfiction is available now at this level. Read the nonfic.over.the weekend,.discuss it, and test during.the week. While waiting to get time to test, keep reading the fiction book.

Another is to test on the read alouds. Listening comprehension is a skill that takes practice, and is often shorted in.the classroom. Start the year by testing on the bed time read aloud...Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl,etc.

Don't insist that every book be AR, or that a quiz is taken for every book that has a quiz. Read magazines, newspaper, etc. Keep the life balance.

Edited by Heigh Ho, 19 May 2017 - 09:10 AM.

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