GES students make ‘big splash’ for reading

Published 10:21 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goshen Elementary School made a big splash at its annual AR Water Day, a day challenging students to keep reading.

GES has excelled higher within their Accelerated Reading Program with the help of the busy librarian, Susan Renfroe. The program motivates students to advance their reading and comprehension levels so that the students may excel more every year.

Throughout the year, Renfroe uses different tactics to motivate students to learn.

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During the year she has put on a magic show, foreign snakes event, snow day, movie and popcorn events, and book author visits as a reward for the students who reach their goals for AR.

“The thing I like about AR is that each child is on their own level no matter what grade they’re in,” said Renfroe. “What they read is what’s best for them to get the most practice.”

The AR program is divided into levels based on the amount of books and the reading and comprehension difficulty. Each of the books provide a certain number of points and the students must read books every nine weeks in order to gather enough points to participate in any festivities.

After reading the book, if they score at least 85 percent on their AR test, they achieve the full amount of points that the book is “worth.”

“If the AR test says your best (reading level) is between 3.4 and 5.0 (third and fifth grade level), that is where we target them to read,” said Renfroe. “The bottom number is the student’s comfort zone while the middle and top numbers represent the more challenging zones. It is where their best learning is.”

For the last nine weeks of school, students strive to reach their goals so that they may attend the Water Day, a field day in which they bring swimwear and play on the water slides during P.E.

Kindergarten and first grade are permitted to attend as they are beginning to learn and understand reading and its benefits. AR tests begin once the student has started the second grade.

It is a collaborative effort among Renfroe, teachers, parents and students. Parents and teachers know where their students are as far as points are concerned.

“Accelerated Reading is a wonderful program that helps children acquire comprehension skills,” said Goshen Elementary First Year Principal Wanda Corley. “As the new principal here, it has been a tradition at this school with Ms. Renfroe, our librarian. (She) has done a wonderful job to help children select books on their level and set up achievable goals according to the grade level that they are in.”

Before Renfore’s big splash in the AR program three years ago, the rewards portion of the program was merely a little store where the students could use their points to buy things like pencils and erasers and anything else the store could afford.

Now, faculty and parents work together to promote fundraisers and produce events just to keep the children motivated.

“Every so-many points that they acquire, they get a Bookworm. It’s like the little dog tag necklace, like what soldiers wear, and I’m constantly going around checking to see how many worms they have,” said Corley. “We have kids with a neck full (of bookworm tags) on their necklaces.”

Out of the 570 children enrolled, more than 75 percent of them reached their goal the last nine weeks and many of the students that weren’t able to reach the mark were only points away from participation in Water Day.

The children were just as enthusiastic about reading as the faculty.

Kati Thomas, Carmen Kelly, Casey Allen and Tessa Little, all sixth graders, expressed their enjoyment of reading book series like the Twilight Saga, the Clique Books and the Maximum Ride Series.

“I’m glad Ms. Renfroe does this (Water Day). It makes kids want to get their AR goals,” said Thomas.

Starting this year, Goshen Elementary will award one girl and one boy in the entire school with the most AR points with an iPod.