Monday, October 31, 2011

Preparing for 2nd Grade | Reading And Focusing |

2nd Quarter has begun.  The real work begins now. Expectations have risen to the next level.  I will be checking all grammar mechanics, including spelling.  Your child should be able to spell all high frequency words correctly.  If they can get it right on their spelling test...they can get it right when they write a sentence.

I will no longer accept the following:
  • uppercase or lowercase letters where they don't belong
  • the word "I" written like this "i"
  • incomplete sentences..."restate the question correctly!"  
  • apostrophes (')  or commas (,) where they don't belong
  • words that we've done in the past year and half to be spelled incorrectly
  • messy/incomplete homework and classwork
  • tardy homework or projects.  (If your child is absent, they have 2 days to make up the work upon their return.)
I expect:
  • students to read daily for 20 minutes + (and log it!)  Download the Reading Log here!
  • students must read AR books
  • students must have an AR book in their backpacks daily
  • students must take 1(chapter book) or 2 (regular books) AR quizzes a week.
  • students must practice their spelling words (words 1-10 and their vocabulary words (words 11-15) every day on their own.  They should be able to write sentences using their weekly words.  They will be tested on their spelling/grammar by dictation sentences.
  • students must write their own book reports. *** Parents are only allowed to spell check and help with grammar.  ***Parents are not allowed to write or type a book report for their child.
  • students to arrive on time/ attend class daily
  • homework to be done daily 
  • all papers turned in must have their name, #, and the date
  • students will, in an age appropriate manner:
    • ♦  work and play cooperatively
    • ♦  make wise and safe choice
    • ♦  show respect toward self and others
    • ♦  display honesty, sincerity and trustworthiness
    • ♦  assume responsibility for actions and outcomes at home, school, and in the community    

Please read the article below.  It is very informative and will explain further my expectations.

Preparing for 2nd Grade | Reading And Focusing |

Just 4 Teachers

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What is Accelerated Reader (AR)?

STAR and AR Parent Information

Purpose:  The purpose of the “Student Assessment of Reading” (STAR) and the “Accelerated Reading” (AR) programs is to make students better readers and provide incentives to read more books.  There is also an emphasis put on reading some non –fiction books to prepare students for academic reading in the future. 

STAR is a quick assessment of reading and vocabulary.  It uses a cloze procedure to assess reading ability.   Cloze procedure uses sentences with words left out and the students attempt to choose the correct word to put in the blank.  This is done 3-4 times a year unless there is a reason to do it more often.   This helps determine appropriate books for a student’s reading level. 

AR is what you will most often hear about at home.  AR consists of reading and vocabulary quizzes to indicate reading comprehension.  Quizzes are taken on the computer and points are earned for the quizzes taken.  Points per book are determined by the computer program itself and based upon reading difficulty and length of book.  To earn all points for a book read the student must be at 100% and less than a 60% will not earn any points. 
For parents not familiar with the program, Accelerated Reading (AR) is a computerized program that helps your child become a better reader. In first grade, we introduce the students to this program around the end of January. Children are given time to practice reading books on their own level, and then given time to take multiple choice tests on the computer. This program is based on the principle that practicing reading will make their reading skills grow. Accelerated Reader is used throughout the school. The children look forward to the culminating assembly at the end of the year where readers are recognized for their accomplishments.
Through the use of this program the staff at MBE hopes to encourage students to read more so that they become better readers.  Since the amount of time reading is directly associated with academic achievement, we would like to encourage you as parents to promote this program with your children.  
Our ultimate hope is that the first reward the students receive is the love of reading; we will offer numerous incentives to the children throughout the year to encourage our students to meet their reading goals.
As we progress through the new school year, I feel it is necessary to review some of the guidelines that all the students must follow as they participate in the AR program:
1. Occasionally it is necessary for an adult to help with an unknown word; however, the tests are not to be read to the student.  If there are many words that a student does not know on the test, then the book the student chose was too difficult.  REMEMBER-the test questions are the same reading level as the book.  
2. Since MBE students begin AR when they are established, independent readers, it is important that they only take tests on books that they have read.  Students are cautioned about books read a long time ago.  They are advised to reread the book to be sure that they remember all the important details in the book.  Since the AR test is asking what they remember from the book, it is important that the book be in the students’ reading range.  A student will not completely understand a book that is on a reading level that is too high.
3. It is dishonest to take a test on a book if only a movie or video has been watched or if the child did not read the book independently before testing on it.  Students are not to use Cliff notes, classic comic books, or abridged versions of a book.
4. Students are not to tell other people answers on the test.  REMEMBER:  The purpose of the test is to see how well each student comprehends the book read.
5. In order for students to qualify for prizes, they must score a cumulative average of 85% or better.
Many prizes and recognitions are used throughout the school and in individual classrooms to motivate students to read.  However, parents and teachers are the key motivators and are essential to the success of the program.  Please encourage your child to read daily and help them to develop and maintain the love of reading.

Questions and Answers

How does AR work?
1. The student chooses a book from his/her appropriate level and reads it at his/her own pace. 

2. The student takes a computer quiz to measure how well he/she comprehended the book.
3. The student is scored immediately upon completion of the quiz.
4. Parents can be notified immediately of quiz results by setting up an email address on Home Connect.
5. A student can only take a quiz on a title once. For example, if a child took a quiz on Green Eggs and Ham in first grade, he/she will not be able to take a test on that book again in second grade.

Where can you get AR Books?
1. Manatee Bay ES Media Center

2.  Public Library
3.  Bookstores
4.  Scholastic Book Fairs
5.  Home Collections

Where do students take AR quizzes?Students use classroom computers to take AR quizzes.

How many quizzes should my child take per quarter?
First through fifth grade students are required to earn a specific number of points each quarter. Each book is worth a different number of points. See for more details on points or contact your child’s homeroom teacher for details (
see below). Your child may earn more than the recommended number of points.

Accelerated Reader Yearly Goals
Goals for 2st Grade:
  • 10 points or 10 books a quarter.
  • 100+ Books Challenge for the year

Why doesn’t the public library label the AR books?
With over 150,000 quizzes available, the public library cannot keep up. If you are at the public library, you can search from any library computer to see if a quiz is available.

What do the abbreviations IL, BL, and Points mean?
To help students select appropriate books, every book that has an AR quiz has been assigned an interest level (IL), a book level (BL) and a point value.  
Interest level (IL) refers to the sophistication of a book’s content, ideas, and theme and is based on
publisher recommendations.  You would use the interest level to determine if a child should read the book.
       LG=lower grades, approximately K-3
       MG=middle grades, approximately 4-8
       UG=upper grades, approximately 9-12

Book Levels (BL) are based on an ATOS readability scale developed by Renaissance Learning.  The full-text of the book is scanned into a computer and the difficulty of the words is analyzed.  The book level is a measure of the difficulty of the text and helps predict which books students can understand.  

Points are based on both the length and the difficulty of the book.  Therefore, the longer and harder the book is, the more points it is worth.  Some schools use points as an incentive program.

How do I know my child’s ATOS Book Level?
ATOS book level is a point range of your child’s reading ability. The main goal is to have your child read on his/her reading level and score a 85% or greater on the corresponding reading practice quiz. When children comprehend what they are reading, they easily score 90% or better on quizzes. Research shows that the better the student scores, the more he/she is benefiting from the AR program. 85% is good, but greater than 85% is better! If your child is scoring 100% repeatedly, then it is time to move up to a more challenging ATOS book level. If your child continually scores 80% or less, the ATOS book level should be lowered. Just because your child is in second grade, doesn’t mean he/she should only test on books between 2.0-2.9. These books may be too difficult or too easy for your child. Use the AR report that is included in your child’s quarterly report card to help determine your child’s appropriate ATOS book level. If you are unsure, ask your child’s teacher for help.
  (I sent home your child's level during the 3rd/4th week of school 2011, along with the Home Connect Letter.) 

How can I help my child with AR?
Encourage reading at home.
Ask your child questions about the book he/she is reading.
Know your child’s reading level.
Check to see that your child is selecting books on his/her reading level.
Praise good percentages.
Watch for scores below 80% on a single quiz, since that indicates there might be a problem.  If a student is scoring low on quizzes, help him/her to figure out where he/she is having difficulty (i.e. Was the book too hard?  Too long?).  Encourage that a 90% average be maintained.

For more information look at the links listed above under AR Links and AR Information 4 Parents.
If you have any questions or concerns about the Accelerated Reader program, please email me!  Together we can inspire your child to read more and become a lifetime reader.
Thank you!

Just 4 Teachers