Wednesday Links/Thoughts- Accelerated Reader Edition 1-17-18

This week’s posts question the efficacy of the Accelerated Reader program and, in some cases, offers some alternatives.

The Argument Against Accelerated Reader– Just what is sounds like from 2001- Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy

How to Accelerate a Reader– Donalyn Miller, the Book Whisperer shares her concerns with AR

Schoolwide Independent Reading Program– Read about how one school moved away from AR

Why Labeling Books Disempowers Young Readers– The author also shares how Fountas and Pinnell, remind us that A-Z Guided Reading labels are a tool and not how we should label (and limit) students.

Some Thoughts + Recent Articles about Life without Accelerated Reader (AR)– This blogger, and mom adds some stories about how AR has the potential for harming students by not encouraging reading for the sake of reading, growing or even rereading a favorite book.

Someone Get Me a Donut!– This is more than a delicious sounding title. Mr. G. deals with some myths and facts about AR and growth and love of reading.

With the research and article and blog reading I have done, I am certainly moving away from some of the bad practices I have done wrt AR. However, our school site pays for and uses, in some capacity, the STAR/AR testing. So, there is a balance, of sorts, that it seems one needs to have.

A goal for my students is that they become lifelong learners and readers. I would hope they leave my class with a love of reading that transcends my classroom walls. For some AR will help with this. However, I don’t think it always helps all my students. Therefore I use it sparingly.

The more I read, the less I want to use AR, but I also know that to hold my kids accountable for reading and ensure that they are all reading and growing…well, that takes time. AR can be a simple solution for some of the low level comprehension questions (DOK1). However, just because it is easy to use for me as a teacher, does not mean it is best for my students, especially my developing readers.

So, how do we combine the 2 (love of reading and AR) in a way that is beneficial for students and uses a resource our site is paying for? That is one side of a common question we often have in our profession. I have no easy answer.

But I do know I do not want anymore of my students leaving my class loving reading less, because of a program, or even worse…because of me. Let me know your thoughts on this.



Martin Luther King Jr.


The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. made a lasting impact and influence on his time and ours. His Christian faith was the foundation for many of his beliefs, teachings and influence.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired many by his words of wisdom and life; he helped to change the mindset of generations with his challenge to live free.  Though his life was cut short, and many sought to stop his mission, they couldn’t stop the dream. Because that dream lives on, free, inspiring, and brave.” Debbie McDaniel

To honor this man, I offer some quotes that have been attributed to Martin Luther King.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

“The God whom we worship is not a weak and incompetent God. He is able to beat back gigantic waves of opposition and to bring low prodigious mountains of evil. The ringing testimony of the Christian faith is that God is able.”

“There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God. We have worshiped the god of pleasure only to discover that thrills play out and sensations are short-lived.”

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men, and brown men, and yellow men; God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.”

I am thankful this man of God stood up and proclaimed Truth in a dark time of our nation. As you enjoy your day off, take some time to reflect on his life and legacy.


Friday Links 1-5-18

I hope you all had a good New Years. We actually stayed up till midnight this year. 🙂 Here are some links for you to check out.

Getting Animated with Google Slides and Screencastify– Doug Robertson shares how he has his 4th graders use Slides and Screencastify to do something different.

Child-Driven and Data-Driven; Can you be Both? George Couros shares how it is more important to be child-driven in our focus as educators.

No AR, No Big Deal– Is there life without Accelerated Reader (AR)? It seems like it.

The 18 Reasons Not to Use Accelerated Reader– This is a reasoned look at some of the problems educators have with AR

Why Kids Should Use Their Fingers in Math Class– Jo Boaler has a great article in The Atlatic that suggests that using your fingers for math is not that bad. A good read.

This is a pretty meaty start to the new year. I hope you find it helpful.


Sunday Links 12-31-17

Here is the last post before the new year. I always like to be refreshed for the coming year. It seems like after the Christmas break, it is a downhill race toward the end of the school year. Hopefully these posts will give you some things to think about coming into the next section of the year.

Finding the Time for Independent Reading – Every Day, Every Kid– Pernille Ripp advocates for more independent reading time in the classroom.

Maybe Next Year… Pernille Ripp suggests that, while these students are with us, we try to teach/influence/lead these kiddos instead of ‘just’ hoping that next year’s teacher will fix it. We won’t always succeed, but it is a good thing to strive for.

Kagan on the Carpet- Strategies for Little Ones– Great tips for doing Kagan groups on the carpet.

A Project-Based Learning Activity That Can Work in Any Classroom– A.J. Juliani is one of the go to educators when it comes to PBL and Design Thinking. He always has inspiring posts.

Top 5 Rekenrek Activities- Christina Tondevold is my new favorite for helping build true Number Sense. In this video, she shares some ways to use the Rekenrek.

Friday Links- 12-8-17

How to Keep Your Students Cam and Focused This Holiday Season– I need all the help I can get. 🙂

Creating Moveable Digital Activities with Google Drawings + Slides- Could be good for classification and sorting

Only Schools Can End Schools ” But we can just never become complacent with “what was” or we could lose our opportunity at “what could have been.”” George Couros

Reader’s Workshop Series- Balancing Accountability and Choice– I like the idea of having students blog their book recommendations

Wednesday Links 11-29-17

Creating Readers Part 1- Donalyn Miller AKA The Book Whisperer shares some secrets to create readers.

Creating Readers Part 2– Donalyn shares some more tips, especially for boys and those who say they have no interests.

6 Do’s When It Comes to Homework– Brandon Blom shares what he learned through having a schoolwide discussion on homework and his own research on the subject. A great look at the issue.

6 Don’t When It Comes to Homework– Brandon Blom offers some don’t on the subject. Another good read.

Have a good week.