Meeting a Challenge

We’ve deliberately made the annual Premier’s Reading Challenge (PRC) simpler to administer each year, as more and more students and teachers take up the Challenge.

Our first year, 2006, the teacher-librarian spent a lot of time providing booklets of titles for all students and teachers, parent information notes (very few came back), and little slips that parents also signed-off on for every book read, and we used them to record those titles as they were returned during borrowing sessions. Class teachers maintained paper records for each student, and the T-L did all the data entry. The K-2 (Red) books were placed on a special stand. All PRC levels were labelled with Syba Signs spine stickers. A huge amount of work, but 209 students out of about 400 completed the Challenge. We did note that, for many students, the PRC gave them a buzz about reading, so we considered it all worth the trouble.

In 2007, I returned to a T-L position and we made the parental note an “opt out by signing” form (we already knew that one existing family would be taking that option). The students filled in their own paper records. (No need for the weekly parent slips; either the student is honest about reading the books or they’re not. If anything, the students are going to be more honest than some gung-ho parents.) As T-L, I did all the data entry. 313 students out of about 400 completed the Challenge.

In 2008, the parental note was an “opt out by signing” message in the school newsletter, and the students still filled in their own paper records. I did some of the data entry, but my new clerical is much faster at it, so she helped me whizz through them in no time. I did show students that “soon” they’d be able to access their own records online. Since most of the time they’re reading they are nowhere near a computer, the paper records are still very useful. One of my parent helpers misunderstook my instruction and pulled every PRC book off the regular shelves. I decided, rather than reshelve them in secret, that I’d create a “Green” and “Purple” PRC section of the library. This worked surprisingly well, and will work even better when OASIS locations match properly in OASIS Enquiry. 329 students out of 410 completed the Challenge, and three students, who’d started PRC at previous schools, received their Gold Certificate from our State Government representative!

In 2009, the “Green and purple” PRC section of the library now has a comfy purple couch against a green wall, as part of our ongoing library makeover. I’ve still made hardcopy student booklets of titles; the paper for doing this is part of our Priority Schools Program (PSP) funding, with the Challenge an intrinsic part of the school’s literacy programs. I’m hoping the students will enter their own books online this year, and I’ll only have to do the K-2 classes (copied records from each teacher’s master list) and acknowledge the 3-6 entries online. We have many students aiming for their gold certificate in our fourth year of running the Challenge here. Again, the PRC still gives most of the students a buzz about reading, so we consider it all worth the trouble. We are aiming at 100% participation this year.

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