Navigating the Transition: Top tips to prepare Year 7 Students for a Successful Year of Reading
by Sharan Kaur
Sharan Kaur, secondary school librarian at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School in Birmingham, has harnessed the power of technology and innovation to guide year 7 students through their formative years. Her secret weapons? Accelerated Reader and Star Reading. For over a decade, she has been using Renaissance solutions to enrich the reading experiences of countless students.
A confident and capable school librarian is integral to all students’ reading development and we hope this blog will give other secondary school librarians practical tips for library reading engagement and tracking strategies.
Get set for back-to-school
I recently got my RGP upgrade over the summer which is synced via Wonde to bring across my class lists, students and teachers for next year, so all I had to do here was make sure my 23/24 marking periods were set. If you don’t use Wonde and you need help to assign your new classes manually give the live chat people a shout; they are super helpful and have helped me when in a pickle quite a few times.
In September, I’ll be arranging some demo training for my reading group tutors explaining Star testing, reading sessions and of course, Accelerated Reader.
National Literacy Trust research says that 1 in 4 children don’t own their own books at home, so we’ve arranged for each child in year 7 to receive a book as a ‘Welcome to Wiseman’ gift that they can keep. This is something we try and do every year depending on that all important budget.
On their first day, year 7 will have a special first day itinerary and with reading for pleasure being a school wide initiative, I will have my own 25-minute slot with them to deliver our reading model via class video call.
Below i’ve copied some of my slides which informs them of our plans for the coming year.
I’ve also created a ‘Helpful information booklet’, somewhere for students to record their ZPD, log in details, expectations and some Do’s and Dont’s.
Reading Rewards, Praise and Prizes; in it to win it!
To encourage pupils along the way we organise a range of incentives. We mention all of the different ways we can reward their successes, however the key message is, “the only way we can measure and reward reading engagement is through quizzing”. They have to be submitting those quizzes in order to be in with a chance of receiving any of our wonderful prizes which range from a queue jump pass to a gift voucher. Most recently, the winners of the year 7 interform won a ‘break the rules party’ where they were allowed to do all the things which are usually banned in the library! They got to eat sweets, go on computer games and play music out loud!
We make sure to reward students each term to keep the momentum going. Some keys dates we work around and tie in to AR success linked rewards:
- World Book Day
We don’t just celebrate our highest achievers; everyone can achieve on Accelerated Reader. Here are some ways we highlight achievements:
- 100% club – these are for pupils who scored 100% on their quiz – must be in their ZPD!
- 20-minute engaged time
- 100% points target
- Millionaires’ club
- Practically Perfect – a combination of 85% and 20-minute engaged time
Display boards: a modern take
We are very short on display space so a typical stapled and paper-backed board won’t do. Instead we make all of our celebrations digital which gives us the luxury of a fast edit. For example every Friday we update the 20-minute readers board.
Later in September…
We will run year 7’s first Star Reading test and to equip them with everything they will need, there will be another demo/explanation session from me before we begin. After this is complete, they will have everything they need to begin their reading journey for this half term.
Key to success for the rest of term? … Monitoring!
Make sure those responsible know how to check the diagnostic report often and to look out for :
- Students throwing on all the quizzes they can remember from Primary – accuracy will be a giveaway
- Students not passing quizzes – arrange a feedback session to discuss why
- Capable students coasting – some 1-1 time with the Librarian to help with book choice
- Students not quizzing at all
- ‘Practically Perfect’ students who understood the assignment and are hitting that accuracy of 85% as well as the engaged time of 20 minutes
Find out more about how our Complete Literacy Solution can support the reading strategy at your school this 23/24 school year
Check out Sharan’s six-part blog series, the Librarian Files to find out how Sharan maintains a reading buzz throughout the school year
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