What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

www.arbookfind.com is the website, if you don't know about AR.

If you do know, discuss its benefits and drawbacks. I'm firmly against it--it limits a student's choices--but I can see the logic, and I'm sure its creators meant well...

message 2: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
Even after reading the "about us" page, I have no idea what "accelerated learning" is. Is this something aimed at gifted students? Or anyone? Half of their principles are gobbledygook.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

It's aimed at every student in a participating school, not just the gifted. As far as I know.

The idea is that you take the computerized "Star Test", get a "level", and read/take automated quizzes on books in that level. He or she then gets points and a grade based on how the quiz went.


message 4: by Dee (last edited Aug 21, 2015 04:27PM) (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments I don't necessarily think it limits - there is nothing saying kids have to stick to a certain range - but it does help parents/teachers find more age/reading comprehension level appropriate books

message 5: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
Ok, so the adjective "accelerated" is kind of meaningless here. It's just a system that matches readers up with books appropriate to their vocabulary and comprehension level.

It sounds like a joyless way to read or learn.

message 6: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments I think could be useful in certain circumstances - kids who stuggle to read/pick books that are too easy or hard

At least one GR group uses it for challenges to make sure books are at an appropriate level for adults

message 7: by Tytti (last edited Aug 21, 2015 04:39PM) (new)

Tytti | 190 comments There must be a way to make sure that children learn to hate reading but these kinds of programs are surely a good start. Also I started choosing books for myself immediately after I learned how to read. Maybe asked librarians to recommend me something.

message 8: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
When I was in public elementary school we didn't read discrete fiction books, at all. We had "language arts." In this class there were textbooks which were anthologies containing a wide mix of stories, maybe some fairy tales, and chapters or excerpts from actual books. In each class there were three different anthologies, one for above average readers, one for middle range readers, and one for the lower range. Based on your previous year's performance, or maybe test scores, you were assigned to a particular textbook and reading group, which you sat together with during the class. But there was flexibility built in; if the teacher saw that the reading was too easy or too hard for you, you would be moved up or down at any point during the year. It seemed to work okay.

Of course, I read like a monster outside of school, so I was reading books too.

message 9: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Dee wrote: "At least one GR group uses it for challenges to make sure books are at an appropriate level for adults"

What does that mean? What is "an appropriate level for adults"?

message 10: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments Most kids already hate reading because of the mostly crappy books that are class reads...i typically boycotted reading them and then got in trouble because they were well below my reading level and I was bored

Maybe its the,way raevyn's school has implemented policy - but i don't see this website as anything other thsn a,resource - and since schools have to purchase access to the quizzes every place is going to use differently

message 11: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Some kids are always going to hate something. We got to read what we wanted, more or less, and then had to write a report about it. Much more useful than any quiz.

message 12: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments I can't access the quizzes to check out - but aren't equally as useful to determine what was read/ comprehended? I've done both thriugh school years - reports (nowadays) are easy to fake with websites like goodreads (reviews/spoilers etc) - a quiz would actually require knowledge of book that could be monitored while was being taken

message 13: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Well if kids don't read what they are supposed to read, that's their problem. But writing a report teaches them to think and form opinions, something answering quiz questions won't do.

message 14: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments agree to disagree...honestly, i don't even really understand the OP's point - no context about how it is being used in her scenario; no discussion of how others utilize it

message 15: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Well I wouldn't want to read a novel knowing I will have to answer quiz questions about it. I would hate it if I would have to memorise details for no reason. It's not a text book that we had to read in order to learn something and in preparation for an exam. In a text book the facts are important, in a novel the only thing that is important is what we personally can "take" from it and that can be different for different people. Answering standardised quiz questions tests only your memory, not your thinking abilities.

message 16: by Tala (last edited Aug 21, 2015 06:24PM) (new)

Tala   (tala2) | 109 comments Both my girls went through AR and the tests in elementary school. They both love to read and were reading on a college level by 5th grade. I don't think AR had much to do with it, they were always reading. They did complain that the tests asked some of the "dumbest" questions and wasn't aimed at comprehension just if you'd read the book. My youngest said that it helped those in her class who had trouble and wouldn't read on their own. So..I can see both sides of this. It did help the teachers make sure my girls weren't reading books way below the level they were on.

ETC: typo

message 17: by Lou (new)

Lou Rocama | 436 comments My school started AR when I was in fifth/sixth grade. It never seemed to work terribly well, as far as I could tell.

You had essentially three groups of students: those who read a lot, those who didn't read well or didn't like it, and those who read the sorts of things AR thought they should read.

The first group (including me) rarely read books that were in the program, so didn't take quizzes and didn't get points. They then felt that they were 'doing it wrong', because their reading was not acknowledged (my friends and I did, at least). This was a handful out of about 100 students, at a guess. Less than ten.

The second group felt like they were inferior to everyone else because THEY didn't get many points, either. This was most people (silly to feel inferior when most people are in the same boat, but such things are not very sensible). These people picked things based on point value rather than interest, and as such tended to not finish many things.

The third group seemed okay with the program. They also tended to pick their reading material based on its point value, like the other group (the only real difference was that they finished things). This was the smallest group, so maybe 5-8 people?

I will also admit (given that the information is now 15 years old and no one cares) that my friends and I also took tests for each other, to get more points without having to read quite as many tedious things.

message 18: by Isabelle (last edited Aug 21, 2015 06:31PM) (new)

Isabelle Ley | 44 comments My school used Accelerated Reader, and I liked it just fine. Taking the star test was easy, and the AR tests were easy too. It gives you a good idea of books on your reading level, but my only issue with that was that if books were below your reading level you couldn't read them, according to the teachers. Basically all the books at my school were AR books, so we didn't really have to chose whether we would read AR books ot not. You had to get a certain amount of points based on your reading level.

message 19: by Tytti (last edited Aug 21, 2015 06:42PM) (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Well... I have never understood reading levels, either, or how they are determined. I always read what I wanted, mainly based on my personal interest. I was reading adult stuff as a child.

message 20: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
I can see this benefiting kids who have serious reading problems, kids who are reading below grade level. These kids need to read the books that they can read successfully, so they build self-confidence. Failing at reading a book is too big of a roadblock for them.

But kids who are reading at grade level and especially those reading above grade level should be challenging themselves to read beyond their level, not at it. It's okay if you're reading a book and you have to look up a bunch of words. I still come across words I don't know in some of the books I read.

message 21: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments But I think for those children who struggle to read even more important is that the book they are reading is interesting for them, regardless of the level of the book.

message 22: by Ket (new)

Ket | 164 comments AR was in my elementary school, so late 1990s was my exposure to it. I was a voracious reader anyway; AR was the way I tracked my reading. the questions were often basic reading comprehension. my big story with AR is that the school gave out awards at the end of year ice cream social to the kids with the most AR books read. I was in fifth grade and was sure I would win! I'd read and tested on 300-some books... but a boy two years younger than me had completed nearly 50 more. I remember my complaint was that he was able to read so many more books, books that I had already read and tested on in previous years. I was pretty bitter with second place. :) but I loved the system - I took the tests during otherwise lonely recesses.

message 23: by Tytti (last edited Aug 22, 2015 04:03AM) (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Here are some good recommendations for fourth graders:

Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit 4.0 (grade level) 0.5 (points)
Alice Walker The Color Purple 4.0 9
H. A. Rey Curious George Rides a Bike 4.1 0.5
William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury 4.4 14
E. B. White Charlotte’s Web 4.4 5
John Grisham The Firm 4.6 20
Sharon Creech Absolutely Normal Chaos 4.7 9
J. D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye 4.7 11
Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants & the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants 4.7 1.0


Yes, I can clearly see a logic behind it all, it must be based on some careful research...

By contrast, here libraries and schools have co-operated and made book lists where kids can choose usually one book from every group and read some 6-8 books depending on the grade level. Once they have read them and made an exercise they have also chosen from another list, they get a printed diploma. It's voluntery, meant to introduce the children to different kinds of literature and there are also harder and more easier books to choose from.

message 24: by Dee (last edited Aug 22, 2015 04:03AM) (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org...

This article does a better job explaining with research to suppirt - the initial link only mentioned one article and was mostly anecdotal

Potentially more bias in this one since its from ALA but their points seem to be backed up by data and other research

message 25: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments It costs more and everything is calculated so it must be better... But I fail to find much positive proof that it actually works from that article.


"The overall results of their study did not support the claim that AR creates lifelong readers. In fact, when the AR program was used in elementary school: it does not result in middle school students who read more relative to those who did not use it. In fact, students who did not have AR in elementary school in these two districts are reading more relative to their AR-exposed peers. (Pavonetti, Brimmer, and Cipielewsi, 2002/2003, 308)"

message 26: by Lou (last edited Aug 22, 2015 10:52AM) (new)

Lou Rocama | 436 comments When I looked at the AR bookfinder website, these were my favorites:

Twilight: 4.9 (grade level), 18 points
Hamlet: 10.5 GL and 7 points


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: 5.5, 12
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: 6.0, 12

message 27: by Karen (new)

Karen (karengvbellsouthnet) | 12 comments I am a librarian at a school that uses AR. How bad is it? Let me count the ways:
-the program uses points, and at most schools, points =prizes, so many students read to compete.
-students who are poor readers will find it impossible to catch up with students who can read Harry Potter in a week, and since they will never make enough points to catch up and go to the pizza party, it encourages them to give up.
-at some schools you must read at your STAR test level. If a book is above or below your level, your teacher, or your school policy, may not let you read it.
-for kids who are natural readers, this program is an easy way to get prizes for something they would do anyway. For a student who is ambivalent about reading, this may start them down the path to reading for enjoyment, or this program of reading and testing for points can make reading into pure drudgery. This is particularly true if there are not enough interesting books for the reluctant readers.
-some of the best readers "cheat." They read short books at the low end of their assigned reading range: sometimes 3 or 4 a night, skimming them to pass the test. This is definitely a valuable skill in the real world, but it's not the stated goal of AR, which is to increase students ' reading levels.

message 28: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments why is the school using one single point measure to determine success...there should be something in place that allows for scaling of difficulty of books - so that those who read Harry Potter and those who don't aren't compared/penalized...

message 29: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments Why do you even need a "measure to determine success"? And there is no such scale, because... well there is no scale. It's literature, it's subjective.

message 30: by Karen (new)

Karen (karengvbellsouthnet) | 12 comments AR (Accelerated Reader) is a program used by thousands of schools. It is one of many overpriced programs that salespeople convince school administrators to buy. And once you're in, you can't stop! There are more updates to the system, more workshops to attend, more "additional products" that all the other schools are getting, and on it goes....

message 31: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "AR (Accelerated Reader) is a program used by thousands of schools. It is one of many overpriced programs that salespeople convince school administrators to buy. And once you're in, you can't stop! ..."

Yeah, I had a feeling this was a moneymaking thing more than anything else. Like nearly every "improvement" to come along in K-12 education. And school administrators are always looking for the magic bullet, so they buy in.

message 32: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (last edited Aug 23, 2015 07:25PM) (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
Tytti wrote: "Why do you even need a "measure to determine success"? And there is no such scale, because... well there is no scale. It's literature, it's subjective."

Schools absolutely need uniform ways to measure success or failure (individual student achievement). You can't just go off grades, which may mean different things from teacher to teacher, school to school, district to district. This is why standardized testing is necessary. It's overused in the U.S., but we do need at least a minimal level of it in order to ensure students are getting the instruction they need.

Literature is subjective in many ways, but basic comprehension isn't. I do think kids need to be evaluated on reading comprehension somehow, I just don't think this program sounds like a good way.

message 33: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments I don't think I was ever actually tested on reading comprehension in all my years in school, only in foreign languages which is of course different, so obviously I don't really see that it's necessary. Probably it was "tested" in the reports and essays we had to write but that was it. Then again, we had to read maybe only one novel per year. But still, the teacher probably would have noticed somehow if someone needed help in that regard.

Also I believe I have done only one standardised test (or actually six or seven in different subjects) in my life (in the final year in upper secondary school) and even those are not taken by everyone, only about half of the age group.

(Btw, here is the English exam from last spring: http://oppiminen.yle.fi/sites/oppimin.... I actually wonder what "reading level" those texts represent...)

message 34: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
(Btw, here is the English exam from last spring: http://oppiminen.yle.fi/sites/oppimin.... I actually wonder what "reading level" those texts represent...)

Ah, the first text is about Eataly. Too funny.

Now I have to take the test.

message 35: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Aug 26, 2015 09:43AM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) Tytti wrote: "Well I wouldn't want to read a novel knowing I will have to answer quiz questions about it. I would hate it if I would have to memorise details for no reason. It's not a text book that we had to re..."

That's a worthy point, takes some joy out of it.

By trying different books, the kid should be able to find one they can understand and that isn't above their level. It just takes a little work on their part. A lot of kids don't take the initiative or use every excuse they can think of to explain why they don't want to do work or didn't do well at it.

message 36: by Maria (new)

Maria | 51 comments They implemented the program at my school in 4th grade and most of my class really enjoyed it. After we started using the program, the teachers started giving us daily reading time in class, which is something that we didn't get before. It also gave us a chance to pick out our own books, where before the whole class would always have to read the same book. It encouraged kids to pick more challenging books than they may otherwise have chosen, because everyone wanted to make it to the next reading level. The quizzes were fun and easy.

I used to work at an after school program, and the kids there also seemed to enjoy reading the books they picked out and taking the little quizzes. I do think that it depends a lot on how the school implements the program, though. If a school or teacher turns it into a competition and restricts kids to only reading books their exact level, it could turn nasty quickly. If it's used as a more self-guided activity with looser guidelines, it can be a lot of fun.

message 37: by Joan (new)

Joan Queen | 9 comments I have twin boys in the fifth grade in the AR program and they love books like Percy Jackson and Matilda....any suggestions?

message 38: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (conservio) | 97 comments My AR experience sound a lot different than others... I think every book on our library- or pretty damn close- was an AR book. We went based off of points(each book was worth different amounts) and every student had to get X amount of points by the end of the semester. I particularly enjoyed it because it was a competition for me and it gave me an excuse to read even more.

However, I can see the drawbacks. Forcing kids to read isn't going to make them enjoy reading, it's just going to make them dislike it even more. And a lot of times the other non reader kids would just guess on tests or a group of friends would all take the same test and then compare notes on it.

I wonder if teachers now ask students why they don't reading. If you know why kids don't like it, it'll be easier to fix

message 39: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 39310 comments Mod
I wonder if teachers now ask students why they don't reading. If you know why kids don't like it, it'll be easier to fix

Good point. It could be dyslexia, it could be vision problems, could be comprehension struggles, etc. etc. You have to dig down with each kid and find out why. Maybe they are reluctant at first to admit whatever it is.

They are coming out with the new SAT next spring and it's going to have even more reading emphasis than the previous ones.

message 40: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (conservio) | 97 comments I've asked a lot of non readers why they don't enjoy reading and a lot of times they say because it's boring. A lot of the time they can't picture what is going on in the book and all they see are words.

I think maybe at earlier stages (thinking elementary school) drawing the scene out could be extremely beneficial. For high school students it's a different beast..

message 41: by Joi (new)

Joi | 47 comments I used AR when I was school (an odd 10 years ago), I liked it but I may be bias because I actually enjoy reading. I feel like AR helped me develop reading comprehension skills.

message 42: by Yvonne (last edited Oct 29, 2015 04:51AM) (new)

Yvonne Davies My daughter's school started it a couple of years ago and it has encouraged some children to read more especially when the the pupil who read the most books got a kindle fire. My daughter has always loved reading and I have always let her read what she wanted. When we were chosing her secondary school we looked round the local grammar school. We decided that she would not do her 11+ when the libarian gave her a list if books that she wanted everyone to read (Emma,sense and sensibility etc). When we explained that she had read them and was reading the Twilight series, she turned round and said "We do not allow our girls to read anout that vampire rubbish" She is now in year 11, took her English Lit GCSE last year and came out with an A. I feel that because she has read what she wanted to read her imagination and vocabulary has improved. Yes she did have to read set books for her exam but she knew that when she wanted to she could pick up a book that she wanted to read. This is also helping her out with her English Language GCSE and she is on target for A in that exam

message 43: by Megan (new)

Megan (meganscoils) | 34 comments I did AR/ARP from elementary-middle school. I HATED it. In elementary school we'd do it for fun then at the end of the year could use our points to buy erasers pencils etc.

Here comes awkward middle school where we took reading tests to test our reading level. Based on that we would have to read that amount of books a month and take the AR for the amount of books. It was like a major grade each 6wks. At the end of the year kids who read so many books and took so many tests had a pizza party, skipped class for half the day, got free books to read over the summer, and listened to N*Sync, Hot Boyz, Brittany Spears, Missy Elliot, and 98 degrees. I'm over it, I'm not mad.

As a teacher I am so happy my school does not participate in this. In middle school I hated reading and PURPOSELY scored low so I would not have to read too much. Sure there are some kids who will read because they enjoy it or are competitive but just as many (if not more) will not put forth the effort to win the pizza party since there is a deep rooted hate or disinterest in reading!

message 44: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 190 comments I just looked what kind of a test is the SAT (because we have no test emphasising reading). So the most important(?) test in school lasts only less than four hours?! And you have to write an essay in 25 minutes? Oh dear... That is so different, I would spend half of that time thinking what I would write and then manage to write less than 10% of it.

Our normal tests usually lasted about two or three hours, and if we had to write an essay in class that usually took the two hours we had time for it. For our finals we have six hours per one exam. In my time you had to answer eight (or ten) questions both in math and in other subjects, IIRC, so it was about 35/45 minutes per question. And yeah, you almost needed that much. In mother tongue we had to write that essay, and then write it again with a pen. It probably took me about three hours to just write it the first time, at least. I suppose if you can answer those exam questions and write the essay you probably have to have a decent reading comprehension, otherwise you couldn't have really studied the subjects.

I also found a site where you can practice for your SAT. I tried some of the questions and got everything correct. I haven't even read that much in English and I thought they were easy questions... Almost like the questions in foreign language exams here.

message 45: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments i wouldn't call the SAT the most important test in school - in fact many colleges while still accepting it, aren't weighing it as heavily in their admissions process

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