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Several of you asked for a posting of ideas on how to celebrate AR

We give a $10 Barnes & Noble gift certificate to the highest point
earner in each grade level every nine weeks.  Student goals are then
raised for the next 9 weeks.  A student must meet their new goal to
be eligible to receive the reward the next time. Then at the end of
the year we give a $50 Barnes & Noble GC to the student from each
grade level that has earned the most point and met their new goals
each 9 weeks.

 I'm at both a middle and an elementary school. We have a raffle jar
(or jars.) A student gets a ticket for every 90% or 100% test, or 80% and
up at the elems. At the middle school we have one jar; at the elem. we
have 1 jar per grade. We hold monthly raffles. We've given out small
prizes, cupcakes, popsicles, root beer floats, kites (in March), big
lollipops, cocoa packets, etc. In addition, at the elem, we have a monthly
principal's pizza party which 3 raffle winners from each grade will
attend. At the middle school we take everyone who's made their goal for 3
out of 4 quarters to a picnic at a park in a neighboring town. We just
barbecue and let the kids run around for several hours, but they love it.
One very popular thing at the MS was our ramen party. We just heated a big
coffeepot full of water and had Top Ramen. Don't ask me why this was such
a hit, but it was.

We have a couple of different ways we celebrate.
1) When a student reaches Independent, they get a rubber bracelet and their
picture put on the bulletin board.
2) As they move up to the next levels, the picture is moved and they get a
certificate to select a paperback book. (Our reading team does that.) We
also have green dog tags that say AR Super or AR Advanced, etc. that they
get when they achieve that level.
3) Each Friday (this past year, at least) I had an open period at the end of
the day and I used the certification report with the percentage listed to
tally which class per grade level had the most movement. A church friend
made quilted banners and the principal's husband secured trophy cups which
are moved to that room. It is really neat to see the kids when I come in
with the banner and trophy and on the other hand, the class where they had
been the previous week usually has moans and groans.
4) Monthly the tally is done for growth (just Independent) for each class
and that is put on a bulletin board next to the office.
5) At the end of the year, I give the kids who get to Honors a $5 gift card
to Barnes and Noble at our last day assemble. We don't have the books needed
for Classic, so once they make Star they go to Honors, even though they
won't get the certificate for that.

I've seen discussion on LM_NET about having an AR store where kids can get
toys or trinkets for achieving goals, but we do NOT do that in my school.
The kids know when they have achieved the different levels and will ask
"When am I getting my bracelet?" or When am I getting my certificate?" The
one first grade teacher makes a big ceremony of putting the student's
picture on the wall. I usually will bring the picture to the room and we
cheer for the student.

The "hardest" (really tedious on my part) is setting the goal for each
student. We have about 500 kids enrolled in AR and despite giving the
instructions for setting certification goals to the teachers, that task
falls on me. I don't know what will happen after this coming year when I

Not to throw cold water on your enthusiasm for celebration, but you might
want to read Alfie Kohn's book Punished by rewards before going into a
reward system too deeply.  The subtitle, "the trouble with gold stars,
incentive plans, A's, praise, and other bribes" gives you an idea of what it
is about.  I don't agree with everything he says, but he does make some
valid points. The only reward we give for our AR program is the points
earned.  Students seem to be proud of that accomplishment and don't seek any
other reward.

We let our classroom teachers handle the weekly rewards if they wish to do
so; we let the classroom teachers set their students individual AR Goals for
the grading period (ours is 9 weeks). We have an AR celebration in the
library once per grading period... Lunch and Limbo in the Library was one of
our themes. Another was an arcade theme, another was Christmas...I can't
remember our first one (sorry!). We set the cut off for meeting your AR Goal
one week before the grading period ends. If students have met their goal,
then the teachers send us a list with their names on it. We will then know
how many to prepare for on our AR Rewards Lunches (we let them bring in
their lunches from the lunchroom, but have special dessert and goodies
ordered from Oriental Trading Company...and of course any donations from
parents/volunteers!) We set up a schedule so we don't have hundreds of
kiddos all at once, but we ended up with about 50 in one group! We had
"stations" to go to. One was decorating cookies, reading reader's theater
based on the party theme, puppet stage, and karaoke! I'm attaching a
modified hundreds chart that we encourage teachers to use in their rooms--
many of them have their students tape them to the inside of the classroom
door & color in the # based on their percentage earned on AR. I hope this

Just had our AR celebration today, the last day of school.  The students in
grades 2 - 4 participate in the AR program beginning in February and go to
June.  The PTA generously provides $5.00 gift cards to reward students'
progress in 3 categories: Most points, highest average percent correct, and
largest reading level increase from the previous year.  These three awards
are given out to three students in each classroom.  I save a copy of their
reading level in June so I know what level they they started on the
following school year.  It's a bit tedious figuring out this award but I
think it means more than the point total.  The only requirement is, that to
be eligible for an award, the student must take and pass at least 10 tests.
From Feb. to June the class tries to reach specific point goals established
by me to earn a popcorn party and ice cream party, again provided by the
PTA.   For example, the second graders classroom goal is 150 points total to
earn a popcorn party, and 300 points to earn an ice cream party.  The point
totals increase for each grade level.  This way the students are motivated
to earn a class party and are rewarded in spring or late spring, and the
final individual awards are presented during an assembly on our last day.
Also, the first graders also do AR (starting in late Feb. or March through
June) but on a smaller scale and no parties or awards are given out.

For two years, I hosted an AR Sleep over at school. Students were given, by
their classroom teacher, an AR classroom goal and an AR Sleep Over goal.
This was usually 5 to 10 points higher.  These were reasonable goals,
ranging from 20 to 40 points.  Children in grades 3-5 participated in this
contest.  This recording period was during the second quarter of school.
The sleep over was held during the fourth quarter after state testing was
completed.  I had a girls night and a boys night.  We occupied the cafeteria
for eating, the gym for playing, and the media center for sleep.  That was
if they wanted to go to sleep, this was not required.  Of course we had
pizza, candy, popcorn, and junk food.  The girls were awesome, but the boys
were a handful this year. I had a lot of parent volunteers to assist during
the night.    I had 50 girls and 51 boys attend the sleep over this year.  I
am thinking about changing the reward for next year to a field trip.

A couple different ideas.  When I was in the elementary school, I did banana
split or sundae parties.  I found this was best done by grade level, or
combining 2 grades.  Another year we did Pizza or Tacos with the principal. 
They love that one! One school here does a dinner with the Mayor at the end
of hte year for big time award winners.  The kids take a limo to whereever
they are having dinner, and dine with the Mayor.  They think this is the

In our school, our program has morphed over the years. Here are some things
we have tried.

*    We tried an AR Store, where school items and trinkets could be
purchased with AR points. We were disappointed in the small amount of
student interest this plan generated. We stopped that activity.
*    Monthly celebration, party for those who earn a pre-determined
grade-level goal. We have an activity of some kind and a treat--it lasts
about 45 minutes. This has worked for us for the last 2 years. It has
generated student interest, and I think it has been part of our modest but
steady increase in the statistics of AR use.
*    We also have a plan for recognizing students who earn 100% on their
tests. Teachers choose their own ways to show who earned 100%. One way was
to give each student a dragon picture--simple photocopy of a line drawing.
Students add pre-purchased colored dots to the dragon when they earn 100%.
Some teachers display dragons in the hall. This is a goal that all reading
levels of students can participate in and show progress. Once a quarter the
Media Center adds the names of students who earn a pre-determined number of
100% scores, for instance the first quarter was 10-100% tests, the second
20% etc. to a giant dragon outside the Media Center. 
*    We also have a banner that we award to the class that earns the most
points in their grade for the term. We award these banners to each grade on
the morning closed circuit broadcast from the Media Center.
I will be interested to see what ideas you report. Each year we review and
change our plan.

Happy AR this fall
Karen Brostad

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