How to: use AR quizzes as a backdrop for whole class reading
By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager
As part of my role here at Renaissance UK, I’m very fortunate to be able to visit schools and spend time in the classroom working with primary teachers to explore exciting new ways that Renaissance Accelerated Reader can be used ‘beyond the norm’. A recent example of this saw us using the Accelerated Reader quizzes as a backdrop to whole class reading in KS1 and lower KS2. The response was quite simply phenomenal, so I just had to share the approach with other primary schools so you could try it too…
1. Behind the scenes
If you already have Accelerated Reader, use a teacher account to conduct the quizzes. Top tip here is that you can leave a quiz open and return to it at a later date (should the children be struggling with attention or time becomes pressured). And if you don’t already have Accelerated Reader, that doesn’t matter. Visit www.takethequiz.co.uk where you can access several quizzes on a range of books – completely free of charge!
2. Plotting your approach
If you’ve never used the quizzes to support whole class reading before, choose a book that you and the children are familiar with. The objective is to encourage whole class participation and by choosing a familiar book it should involve even the most hesitant of children.
3. Setting the scene
Read your chosen book the day before you plan to take the quiz and let the children know that you’ll be taking a quiz the next day. As well as preparing them, this also helps to build anticipation and excitement!
4. Final rehearsals
Before starting the quiz, do a quick recap. Remind the children that you’re going to take a quiz together as a class and consider reading the last few pages of the book to help get the children ‘in the zone’. This is also a modelling technique which prepares the children for independent quizzing at a later date – as they will start to understand you can only take a quiz if you’ve recently read a book (we’re assessing comprehension not memory, remember)!
5. Lights, camera, action
If you’ve got a front of class screen, use this to display the quiz content and to focus the children as you move through the quiz. Don’t worry if a screen isn’t available, you can just as easily run from your tablet or laptop as you’ll be physically selecting the responses (and the children don’t need to see the questions). Unlike independent quizzing, each question will be used as a basis for discussion as opposed to moving through at a pace. It’s important to remember that the quiz questions are only designed to provide a structure for unpacking and unpicking the book – as the teacher you can then respond to lines of discussion using the tried and tested five W’s.
6. And the winner is…
The whole class approach requires the children to vote on what they believe to be the correct answer. Divide the class into two groups and ask them to discuss what could be the right answer and justify why other answers couldn’t possibly be correct. At the end of the discussion, ask for a show of hands – with the majority being the response that will be submitted.
7. Repeat performance
Over time, as the children become more comfortable and confident in quizzing, you might also want to consider introducing ability groups and using the approach as part of a guided reading programme. Asking the children to take the book home to read with their parents the night before a group quiz is an excellent way of supporting parental engagement.
You can hear me talk about Accelerated Reader as a backdrop to whole class reading in a bit more detail here. Or if you’d like to learn more about using this approach in your school and would like a little more hand holding or advice, please feel free to contact me @MargaretCAllen.
Strategic Education Manager
Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.