St. Paul's first-graders recognized for accelerated reading program

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Nick Crow
Thursday, April 3, 2014

JANESVILLE— There's something amazing going on in Ruth Ann Schultz's first-grade class at St. Paul's Lutheran School in Janesville.

Students, lots of them, are excitedly reading.

They genuinely seem focused and happy as they pore over each page, sharing their selections with classmates.

Aiden Slama, 7, has read 525 books this school year, including 25 this quarter, he said.

After reading a book, the students take a quiz on the computer, which tracks their results and comprehension.

"I've read 10,882 words," Slama said, as he reviewed his reading statistics online. "I read a lot of books. I just finished a Star Wars one."

But what makes Schultz's first-grade class so special is that in each of the past two years they have placed in the top five nationally in a reading program for Lutheran schools. They took fifth last year and second this year.

All this reading is a part of the Accelerated Reading program, which is used by approximately 30,000 schools worldwide to promote and encourage reading by students. St. Paul's first- through eighth-grade students all participate in the program that provides more than 145,000 quizzes for students to assess and measure their progress.

"It's an incentive reward program," Schultz said. "The more they do, the better readers they become."

The students are given points at St. Paul's for each book they complete and get prizes such as pencils, erasers and buttons.

"We just want to get them reading and excited about reading," Schultz said.

The biggest school-wide prize is an end-of-year ice cream party if the entire school reaches its goal. Individually, students can earn prizes such as lunch with the principal.

That's a prize Slama already has earned, he said.

"I get to go to either McDonald's or Culver's," Slama said. "I hope it's Culver's."

St. Paul's has been participating in the program for more than a decade, Schultz said. It has created a culture of reading in her classroom, which she couldn't be happier about.

"I'm very proud of them," Schultz said. "It's just fabulous that they are on the way to being life-long readers and learners."

This year's challenge, in which 85 Lutheran schools took part at the first-grade level, began in January and ended in March. During the six weeks, St. Paul's first-graders averaged 37 points per child,one of only four schools to crack 30 points.

Points were awarded to students based on their quiz scores and number of books read.

"The competition is done, but we are going to keep going," Schultz said. "The program also encourages families to get involved. It's good all the way around."

Jordyn Ronde, 7, who also earned lunch with the principal, said the program has gotten her to read a lot of books. She said what she learns from reading is what she likes most.

"This is a cool thing for them," Schultz said. "The thing is if they can read and learn at an early age to like it, they can choose any career they want."

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