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Park Rapids readers motivated by points, rewards

Fourth-graders Peter Vanbatavia, Luke Kosel, Emily Kjenaas and Eli Fosman hold out the books they are currently reading for the Accelerated Reading program. Each student has different reading tastes, from mysteries to animal books. They are motivated by points and the chance to win prizes and spend most of their free time reading. (Anna Erickson/Enterprise)

Park Rapids students have become motivated to read through the Accelerated Reader program.

Accelerated Reader is a computer software program that helps teachers manage and monitor students' reading. Connie Fondow is the administrator of the program for Century School.

"The best part is that it's fair for every student," she said.

When students first start the program, they take the STAR test to determine their reading level. The student then finds a book from the media center color coded for his or her reading level. When finished, the student takes a quiz about the book on the computer.

Depending on how well the student does on the quiz, and the difficulty of the book, points are awarded.

A print out is then given, explaining how the student did on the quiz.

"It's a real motivator for some students, trying to build up the points," Fondow said.

Accelerated Reader gives both student and teacher feedback based on the quiz results that the teacher then uses to direct ongoing reading practice.

Bike for Books coincides with Accelerated Reader. Students who receive points through Accelerated Reader are entered in the drawing to receive a bicycle, Fondow said.

Rewards are given out at the end of each trimester, as well, and some classrooms offer individual rewards.

Fourth-graders Emily Kjenaas, Eli Fosman, Peter Vanbatavia and Luke Kosel have been especially motivated by the Accelerated Reader Program.

"I like the reading and getting the points," Kjenaas said.

"I like the prizes," Vanbatavia said.

Last year, Kjenaas said she won a bicycle through Bike for Books but she's still not big enough to ride it.

Each of the students enjoy reading different types of books.

"Fiction books, but not with any space aliens or anything," Fosman said. Right now she's reading a book called "The City of Ember" by Jeanne DuPrau.

Vanbatavia said he likes to read mystery books "because they're intense." He's reading a Hardy Boys novel now.

Kosel also likes to read mysteries and other fiction books. He's reading "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" by C.S. Lewis.

Kjenaas likes reading books about animals.

These fourth graders read whenever they have a free moment: in school, at home and on the bus.

Part of the program includes having parents be a part of their kids' reading habits. A unique part of the program is a home connect page for parents to use, Fondow said.

Parents can log in to their child's account and find out how many points they have received and how they have done on tests.

Teachers frequently use the Web site as well to find out what books are available through Accelerated Reader.

"It's been very beneficial in Park Rapids," Fondow said. "We're glad we're able to have it."