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OHMS gears up for national reading challenge
OXFORD HILLS — On March 2, students and staff at the Oxford Hills Middle School will participate in a nationwide reading challenge, after having spent the entire month of February gearing up by reading as much as possible, said OHMS literacy coach, Cheryl Lang.
The event, called "Read the Most from Coast to Coast," is sponsored by Renaissance Learning, an online reading assessment service that OHMS has been affiliated with for several years, said Lang. The goal, she said, is to shatter last year's national one-day record for the Accelerated Reader Quiz.
According to Lang, schools across the nation last year ended up taking a total of 2,177,586 online book quizzes.
"We are joining in the effort ... to beat this record and to promote independent reading," said Lang.
While the younger students at OHMS for several years have participated in Read Across America, a similar event sponsored by Scholastic, the older students will now get the opportunity to challenge themselves during the Coast to Coast challenge, she said.
Tens of thousands of educators have registered for this nationwide event, according to the Renaissance Learning website, enabling students to take part in a shared reading adventure, and, at the same time, show the world they understand what they’ve read.
"They read the books and then they actually take a quiz on their understanding of the book they've read," said Lang. "The challenge is for them to be successful with the quiz, and add to the number of quizzes taken across the nation."
Lang said that students and staff can read any book they choose. Students, however, should not choose a book based only on its genre; they are also encouraged to choose a book based on its reading level, she said.
"It's to make sure they are appropriately challenging themselves as a reader, and to continue to grow as a reader," said Lang.
As far as the quizzes, while students are encouraged to pass with flying colors, it's not the goal of the challenge.
"We don't want them to necessarily always score a 100, because then it poses the question of whether they were appropriately challenged, or did they just breeze right through," said Lang.
Each student takes one quiz per book. Lang said that more than one student can read the same book, but will take their quizzes independently. Students are also allowed to take active reading notes, said Lang, if it will help them score higher on their quiz.
In some cases, OHMS staff will be taking the quizzes alongside students, said Lang. Though students are allowed to take their quizzes immediately after reading, Lang encourages the students to wait to take their quiz on March 2, in an effort to promote "sustainability of knowledge."
"Typically, the students would want to finish their book and quickly take the quiz," she said, "but if they hurry up and take the quiz, are they truly remembering the information?"
OHMS also uses Star Enterprise, another assessment program through Renaissance Learning, said Lang, which assesses a child's reading ability. In the past, the school only used the Star program, which strictly focuses on vocabulary, she said.
According to Lang, language arts teachers will be grading the Accelerated Reader quizzes. Students who don't take the quiz on March 2 will not get a bad grade in the class, she said.
If any student or staff member successfully takes and passes a book quiz, he or she will get to ring a bell saying, "Yes to the test!" said Lang.
Prizes will be given to every student who successfully takes and passes a book quiz, she said.
Testing will take place in the library throughout the day on March 2.
"Anything to engage the students in the process and make the learning fun for them is what we are trying to achieve," said Lang.