The school's innovative approach to teaching, state-of-the-art facilities, and dedicated staff have established it as a leading institution in the region. The student body of approximately 1,800 Qatari pupils utilises various e-learning platforms, such as Accelerated Reader (AR) and myON, and other resources to enhance their academic experience.

In this longer read, we asked Al Maha Academy for Boys about the role that Accelerated Reader, myON and Star Reading have played in ensuring the school has sustained a whole-school reading culture.

Developing a passion for reading

"What we like about Accelerated Reader is that the students can take control of their reading, understand exactly where they are, and choose what books they like and how they want to carry on reading in the future."

Hamish explains: 

"I see the Accelerated Reader programme, as an excellent opportunity to instil a passion for reading in the boys, many of whom lacked the enthusiasm to engage with literature. We used myON and Accelerated Reader to encourage them to start with simple texts, gradually building their confidence and interest in reading. Our efforts have been successful, and we have made significant progress this year.

The diversity of reading material offered by myON has been particularly beneficial for our students in Secondary. The platform's extensive collection includes a variety of genres, such as comics that our pupils find engaging. The Middle East filter is especially useful in this regard, as it helps us to cater to the boys' specific interests and cultural backgrounds. This approach has contributed to the success we have seen in our student's academic achievements.

As the Head of Secondary, Kashif elaborates: 

"Our school places significant importance on AR, as we are an English-speaking institution, and all our exams are administered in English. Even mathematically gifted students cannot excel in the complex IGCSE exams if they struggle with English comprehension. AR has helped to address this issue, as it enables our students to understand better, learn, and read, leading to improved academic performance in other subjects. This, in turn, opens up more opportunities for our students and ultimately results in even better outcomes."

Celebrating Success

"With myON and AR's aid, we have successfully enabled our students to blaze their own trail in reading, and they are thoroughly enjoying the journey."

Kashif describes: 

“The most significant transformation we have undergone since adopting myON is the remarkable progression in our pupils' reading abilities. Initially, students were only reading brief and straightforward literature. Astonishingly, even students in years 5 and 6 were only reading books that were 80 or 100 words in length. However, as our students began to cultivate a genuine passion for reading, thanks to myON, their confidence and self-esteem soared.

Now, our students eagerly venture to the library to immerse themselves in full-length books, and we have begun to utilise AR to its utmost potential. This has effectively dissipated any fear they may have previously held about lengthier books. One of my pupils was positively beaming with pride this morning after reading a 30,000-word book in just two weeks - a previously unattainable feat for him.

Last year, our top-performing student read 120,000 words over the entire year. This year, we have already had three students, each reading nearly 2 million words. Once they get engrossed in the narrative, they find great joy in these literary adventures. With myON and AR's aid, we have successfully enabled our students to blaze their own trail in reading, and they are thoroughly enjoying the journey. All in all, it has been an incredibly positive experience.”

Supporting parental engagement

The school has been utilising various ways to engage families with their children's reading development process. 

In primary school, families have been following the reading milestones and the awards ceremonies to monitor and appreciate their children's progress in the reading journey. The teaching staff actively discuss these during parent-teacher meetings, as reading more allows children to access more information, knowledge and educational benefits.

Meanwhile, in secondary school, students can access myON from home, where the school gets access to detailed real-time reports on students' reading activities, including the number of pages, books, or words read.

Kashif adds, "Recently, we held an award ceremony to recognise the most avid readers. The parents were involved in the ceremony, and receiving a certificate of recognition meant a lot to them. We use these certificates to encourage children to continue reading and to communicate with parents about the importance of reading."

Enhancing International Mindedness and Reading Autonomy 

"Every student has their own pace, and myON reinforces their reading growth."

Ahmed and Hamish say:

“Most boys like that they can generally find a book related to what they want at that moment. So, the search feature makes it so easy if they're going to find a long book, a short book, or a medium-sized book at this age level and about this topic. And then, once they're into the book, if they don't understand a word, they click on the word to pop up a dictionary definition of that word, and they can develop themselves through that and find out what that word means.

In secondary school, we found that myON News fits very well with the older years, so we got years ten reading news articles, and the great thing about that has been that their IGCSE is in English. So, it was beneficial to integrate it into the curriculum.

 myON is very useful because it allows the students to find that library of books without having to go into the library and pick up a small book. They do not have to be embarrassed. They can read it at home, take the quiz, and develop themselves that way. Every student has their own pace, and myON reinforces their reading growth.

So, the independence of reading is greatly increased. Students can choose what they want, read what they want, and understand it as well, which is massive, especially for these boys. “

Intervention and Support for Reading with Star Assessments

Al Maha Academy for Boys undertakes Star Reading assessments 3-4 times in an academic year to personalise instruction and target support.

Kashif explains the impact of Star Reading as:

"For Secondary, the engagement has gone up massively. So, about 99% of year seven engage with it and regularly do quizzes and reading.

This year, for example, we usually would see summer slippage and the fact that we didn't see any negative progress as an average is really positive.

We use the Star Assessment reports to find which children are not reading, which children have no access at all, and which classes have low engagement. After monitoring each student's progress, we arrange meetings with students performing low to try and increase that usage and engagement, trying to achieve 100% access and using the platforms effectively.”

Click here to find out how your school can utilise Accelerated Reader to support your reading culture.

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