Thursday, May 3, 2012

So Long, SuckARs

Woo-hoo, woo-hoo, happy dance, happy dance!

Big Brother is FFIINNAALLYY done with his Accelerated Reading (AR) books for the year.  For AR, the student basically reads books and takes computerized tests on them.  Each book is worth generally 0.5-3 points, and there is a goal to read a certain number of points worth of books each 9 weeks, and maintain an 85% test average.

Can't tell you how much of a relief this is for Mom-E and I, other than to say it feels like "Happy Hour"!  Every hour, of every day.

Please don't get me wrong, Big Brother has really benefited from this program.  The improvements in his reading skills over the course of first grade have been a true quantum leap.

But at some point in the last few weeks, reading AR became a chore, and not fun.  Which is not good.

Several things contributed to this problem.

At some point, things became more about "competition" than a love of reading, which is admittedly a little hard to swallow when we're talking about first graders.  It became about "who can read the hardest books," not, "hey, I really like this story."

And as a result, Big Brother would bring home a 70-page chapter book on the "History of Dirt", which was subtitled "How I argued with my 7 year-old for a week about him not wanting to read a 70-page chapter book on the 'History of Dirt'."

Big Brother put a lot of extra pressure on himself by only picking books at upper end of his reading range, rather than a book in the middle of his range that he was more excited about.

There's also a focus on meeting a point goal for the 9 weeks.  Don't get me wrong, setting goals that aren't trivial to obtain is a good thing.  The problem for us became that Big Brother was picking books that were hard enough such that he was pretty slow to accumulate points.  And sometimes a 70-page chapter book was worth 1 or 2 points, and sometimes only 0.5 point, which is a problem when you need 10 points in 9 weeks.

Lastly, I think Big Brother just got a little "tired of" the AR system (chalk it up to Spring Fever).

Big Brother went into this week needing 2 points to reach his goal.

We both agreed that he needed to make his goal - no free passes there for being a little behind.  But that Big Brother's system of picking hard books wasn't going to work.

And then stepped in Super Mom-E.

Super Mom-E got permission to help him pick out four 0.5 point books that, although still within his range, he could read and test on over the course of a week.

No good deed going unpunished, as she was leaving the school library for the FIRST time, Mom-E found out, "oh, by the way, the last day for AR is this Friday."  (We thought we had 2 weeks.)

And so Mom-E realized that the books she helped him pick were still too hard.  Of course, by then she had to go take Little Brother to school.  She ended up having to make a SECOND trip to the library with Big Brother during lunch.

Of course, at that trip, Bab-E Brother left "B", his most prized stuffed animal/best friend/wubby at the library.

Fortunately, the librarian found "B" and instead of Mom-E having to make a THIRD trip to the library in one day. "B" was safely transported home in Big Brother's back pack.

And because there's an incentive if everyone in the class reaches their AR goal, Big Brother has been surprisingly cooperative about finishing off these last few books.  Thank goodness for no late night arguments with a tired 7 year-old about needing to read his books.

Perhaps our biggest relief is that Big Brother appears to still be enthusiastic about reading.  Pa-Pa just sent some more of my old Hardy Boys books, which both Big Brother and Little Brother have really enjoyed.

And Big Brother just got to help make selections for an order for some books he's talking non-stop about reading this summer.

In the meantime, I think Mom-E and I are ready for Happy Hour!

Have a good weekend,

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