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Rewarding Readers

By: Ellie Mady

By: Jacob Hermesch

May 15, 2018

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    On Friday, May 11, Nemaha Central Elementary school students attended the last Accelerated Reader Store of the year. The A.R. Store is where readers can spend the A.R. points they earn during the nine-week period. Students earn points by reading books and taking tests on the books to examine their comprehension on that particular book. Each book is worth a different amount of points, depending on length, vocabulary, and overall complexity.

    The maximum amount of points a student can spend at the store is 100 points. The reader then takes the points and spends them on different items. Each item is “priced” at individual prices depending on how much they are really worth. Students enjoy the A.R. Store because it rewards them for reading on their own, not as an assignment. It also rewards them no matter how many points you get, as long as you get some points.

    Older students say that they miss being rewarded for their reading. Instead, many students slack and don’t read unless they are required to. The middle school teacher, Hadden Hiltgen, takes A.R. points as a grade. Each student is given an individualized goal, and their grade is based on the percent of their goal that they earn.

    The following middle school students did reach their goal and then went above and beyond that goal.  The top reader in the middle school was Ellie Mady, eighth grade, followed close behind by sixth grader Emma Stallbaumer.  Other students that were rewarded with Chamber gift certificates for their reading were Alyssa Frye, sixth grade; Joe Korber, sixth grade; Dylann Grauer, seventh grade; John Langill, sixth grade; and Gracyn Lierz, seventh grade.  

    “I really enjoyed being able to do the A.R Store because it gave me a reward for reading. Instead, now I get a grade for reading. For many students, that is not enough incentive to read. Other students read slowly and are not able to make their goal. I really would like to get a better reward for working hard on my own time by reading.” said 8th grade student, Taryn Ganstrom.

    As Taryn stated, many students don’t reach their goal. Whether they never strive to reach it in the first place, or just miss the goal, majority of the middle school student body is lacking in A.R. points. According to middle school literature teacher, Hadden Hiltgen, 46% of all middle school students haven’t reached the individualized A.R. goal in the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year. 13% of those students haven’t taken a single test the entire semester. Another thing noticed by Mr. Hiltgen: students get less A.R. points in their 7th grade year than they did in their 6th grade year.

    When asked why she thinks this happens, 7th grade student Ella Larkin responds: “I think this is all because of sports. When you start 7th grade, you also start sports. Any sport is time consuming. I believe that we were unaware of the time commitment sports would take, and we don’t know how to manage our time wisely so that we still have time to read. I think, though, that in 8th grade you have already gone through a year of sports, so you know what to expect. You are better able to manage your time and read.”

    How can students earn more points while still participating in sports? As Ella established, students need to manage their time. This can be hard for students, especially at first. Many students say to do the following things:

  • Don’t mess around in class

  • Get as much work done as you can in class

  • Read when you have no homework

  • Read in study hall

  • Read ten minutes every night

    Middle school students struggle with time management because they have never really had to manage their own time. Their teachers or their parents always helped them. In middle school, that is hard to adjust to. Students need to get in the habit of reading as early as possible.

    Mr. Hiltgen also notices that the percentage of 6th grade students that do not have their A.R. goal is significantly lower than the 7th and 8th grade students, with only 14% of students not reaching it. When asked about it, Mr. Hiltgen discusses a new program that was started in the elementary when the current 6th grade students were 5th graders. This program is called daily five.

    “I am curious to see how the program carries over,” states Hadden.

    Students don’t seem to see how special and beneficial reading is until it is too late. Making reading fun when you are young will help your grade in middle school.

    “Reading is important, especially in middle school when A.R. is a grade. My advice to elementary students: start reading for fun. Don’t make reading a punishment, and don’t procrastinate. Take initiative and read.” This advice is given by 8th grade student, Katelyn Ohlsen.

    Why are students’ giving advice to younger students on reading? Well, studies show that reading a novel makes long-term, positive changes to your brain. Reading can also help get your mind off of other things.

    “When I read, I am transported to a different world. I don’t have any of my real problems. I can forget about the challenges of my life. I make new friends and I am part of an adventure.” says 8th grade reader Savannah Engelken.

    Long story short, reading is important. Whether you are rewarded directly or not, reading will be beneficial in the long run. It will help you in every class, and will help grow your brain. As many students stated, reading is important. Take their advice and read.

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