Renaissance spoke with Dolores Elliot-Wilson, Chief Librarian from Sunmarke school to discuss the impact of Accelerated Reader and Star Reading on ELL (English Language Learners), library engagement and top tips for aspiring schools.
For a new school, it was important for us to follow in the ethos of our education group, which is characterised by high-level teaching, underpinned by the science of positive psychology, well-being and happiness.
Our aim was to create a school culture where children can flourish in a variety of learning skills, including literacy, with the assistance of Renaissance products.
The introduction of Accelerated Reading in both schools has been made possible by significant financial support from our Board of Directors.
Guiding English Language Learners
At Sunmarke and Regent International School, we have a diverse range of students, with around 50% being English Language Learners. Some of these students predominantly from Korea, China and Russia arrive with their reading age ability below their chronological age, some with little to no English language skills. The challenge was to create a literacy development program to help guide these students and improve on their English.
The Star Reading assessment test is important in understanding the precise level for each student. Once we know their initial ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) score and reading range, we can create the learning plan, coupled with Accelerated Reader to improve reading practice. With ELL students, we have seen substantial growth where some students have made a year’s worth of progress in just a few months. We expect to have a clearer view of the progress made with our next Star test in June.
More Engaged in the Library
We found that students are much more engaged in the library with Accelerated Reader. For example, students visit the library for 20 minutes during an English lesson, pick out their books, and then sit and read. Initially, we saw that girls were generally more motivated to read, however now we find it to be more popular amongst boys. Previously, students used to ask the librarian what to read, but now that they know their reading ranges they independently choose the books that interest them, and then take the quiz.
“Since we’ve had the competition in place, the children are so competitive! They want to increase their word count, which is fabulous!”
Top Tips for Librarians and Teachers
For librarians, don’t underestimate the task of labelling books! Once you’ve got them on your shelves, it’s so rewarding to see the progress the children make.
My advice for teachers would be to get involved and encourage the project from the beginning! Don’t restrict children from reading, but instead try and encourage them to read suitably-challenging books from within their recommended reading ranges. Also, try and regularly look at the Diagnostic Report and see which students haven’t taken their quizzes. You may find that some children are nervous to start with, but once they have done one or two quizzes, you’ll see a growth in independence as they continue to use the program.