Saturday, August 17, 2013

25 Books Challenge Reading Incentive

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25 Book Challenge Campaign

Since many have asked me about our 25 Book Challenge, I thought I would  write a brief description.  My middle school of 670 students and 50 faculty members participate in this program as part of the Pearson School Program (previously known as America's Choice School) .  The main objective is to encourage our students to read 25 or more books during the school year.  Students are not required to particulate nor do they receive a grade for participation.   This is not a library or English department reading incentive program but rather a school-wide literacy initiative that must be implemented by the entire learning community.  Here is our program outline.
  • Start by gathering a 25 Book Challenge committee.  Make sure you include faculty from all subject areas.  This year I plan on inviting students and parents to serve on the committee.
  • Within the committee delegate responsibilities such as the promotion group, incentive celebration group, data information group, etc.
  • Establish what equals a book.  You must consider magazines, newspapers, textbooks, graphic novels, eBooks, regular books, and the Internet. We posted the information in classrooms and hallways. 
  • Set a calendar for celebrations.  We found that small celebrations in multiples of 5 books worked wonderfully.  Here's last year's schedule.
    • 5 books celebration in late October - ice cream party
    • 10 books celebration in late December - movie at the nearby high school performing arts center with popcorn and a drink
    • 15 books celebration in late February - extended lunch in the courtyard with special dessert served by our administrative staff
    • 20 books celebration in early April - coke floats
    • 25 books celebration - our students attended a local minor league baseball during a special educational event day paid for by the school
  • Kick-off the program in an assembly or with some excitement. This year we will give out the prizes from our summer reading campaign and smoothly transition into the 25 Book Challenge at the beginning of the school year assembly. 
  • Students entered the books they read into a NetSchool (moodle) database.  The library NetSchool page hosted the database.  The dates when the database was available was well publicized.  Generally the database would close 1 week prior to a celebration for data analysis.  The database allowed all entries to be exported in Excel, sorted by English teacher, and sent out to teachers for approval.  We required 3-5 sentences in the summary along with page numbers, title, author and more.  The page number column was important because we could use a formula in Excel to easily calculate the number of books.  
  • Promotion is the key.  Keeping up the momentum all year long can be challenging.  That's where your promotion committee is very important.  We used our social media accounts, the school news show, announcements, scrolling marque, and any means to keep up interest in the campaign.  Hosting the 4 smaller incentive celebrations kept student interest alive and well.
My role as the librarian included:
    • Organizing the committee
    • Keeping up with the database
    • Organizing the data for analysis 
    • Tallying the list of students for celebrations
    • Keeping the momentum going
    • Help plan the celebrations 
Reflection includes:
  • We are contemplating on using Google forms instead of the NetSchool database this year.
  • We are also considering running the data analysis through homeroom teachers thus involving more faculty in the process.  
  • There has been discussion of allowing students to submit various formats of a project such as a book trailer.
  • A teacher has volunteered to host a "book wall" that would be modeled similar to a word wall.
The main objective of the entire program is to encourage students and faculty to read.  We had 130 students who read 25 or more books last year and participated in the program.  We hope to increase that number in the coming year.

Thank you to Sharon Gullett and Marsha Edney for presenting the software @ Dallas Library Summit 2013 that I used for the graphic above.

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