Our school has had been using a program called Reading Counts (similar to Accelerated Reader) to help motivate our students to read and find books they love and want to finish. The middle school I taught in for several years, used it with quite a bit of success. I have not seen the same success at the elementary level so I decided to try something new this year. In the past, teachers would set students goals, some classes had individual goals while others had a blanket goal for all students. Some teachers really bought into the program while others didn't, leaving some students getting acknowledged for the work they did and others not at all.
I decided this year I would take this program on in the library. I asked students set their own "gutsy" goals on how many books they could finish in the first trimester, they wrote strategies on how they would reach these goals and then created reading lists using our online catalog of "just right/good fit" books. I asked teachers if they could allow opportunities every so often for students to take Reading Counts tests in the classroom. They would have opportunities during library, but I wanted to have other opportunities for them as well.
With the help of my amazing volunteers, student goals were entered into Reading Counts. On each check out day students assess their progress towards their goal and what they need to do differently in order to reach their goal and adjust their strategies accordingly. They fill out their "Reading Goal Tracker" which includes the titles of the books they finished, the Reading Counts score on the quizzes they took, and the genre of each book finished. There will be time for students to take Reading Counts tests and to add books to their reading list as well.
I will also be sharing my own gutsy goal and my journey towards reaching my goal to provide a model of what it looks like to set high expectations and the struggles that go with reaching goals.
My hope is for students to learn about themselves as readers. I want them to learn what books they love and what reading level is the best fit for them. Mostly, I want students to find books they love enough to be determined to finish them.