May 21, 2015

Music, Mischief and Mayhem! in the Gum Girl series is the AR Quiz of the Week

There is a lot of excitement in the Renaissance Learning office today to celebrate our 27,000th Reading Practice quiz for Accelerated Reader. Appropriately, the 27,000th quiz is our AR Quiz of the Week.

Music, Mischief and Mayhem! is the fourth title in the popular Gum Girl series. Told in a graphic novel style, this book is readily accessible for students with relatively low reading ages because the language is simple and broken into small sections. In three short stories, the titular protagonist comes to the rescue in the town of Catastrophe… with the help of a stick of gum.

Music, Mischief and Mayhem | Walker Books | Quiz #226382 | MY | BL 2.7

Discerning but not discriminating

Since launching in the UK and Ireland 15 years ago, we have added nearly 2,000 quizzes to the programme every year. More quizzes are made live every week, meaning that we are continually broadening the range of books students can enjoy reading and enjoy quizzing with AR.

We are discerning but not discriminating with what we quiz. Our first priority is to provide quizzes on the books our customers have requested (using the handy online form). We keep a close eye on initiatives like Bookbuzz and the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal shortlists, and in recent years we’ve had the World Book Day quizzes live on the big day itself.

We quiz books from any and every publisher – there are currently over 300 publishers and imprints represented on our quiz list with more being added all the time. Everything from international best-sellers to specialist titles like High Interest / Low Level books finds a home on Accelerated Reader. Our recently enhanced Book Discovery feature introduces students to books they might not otherwise have considered reading, unconcerned by the publisher or platform on which they might read them.

The long and the short of it

Book covers for In the Forest and War and Peace

Among the 27,000 books we have quizzed for AR, there are plenty of titles appropriate for students of every ability. Over 600 low-level books have Recorded Voice quizzes attached to them, meaning that students can listen to the quiz being read to them with a professionally-recorded voice-over. Emerging readers now have access to over 150 three-question quizzes on books with very limited text. And some books do indeed have very limited text. At the lowest end of the scale, the shortest book we have an AR quiz for is Becca Heddle’s In the Forest in the Collins Big Cat reading scheme, which is an economic 29 words long.

At the other end of the scale, the longest book we have quizzed is (unsurprisingly) War and Peace. Tolstoy’s classic is an exhausting 587,287 words long (equivalent to reading In the Forest roughly 20,000 times). Other hefty tomes for older readers include classics of British and European literature from Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo, as well as contemporary fantasy epics like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. The average length of an AR-quizzed book is just over 20,000 words.

Searching high and low

Every AR-quizzed book can be located using AR BookFinder, our public search engine of quizzed titles. This website is free to use, and we actively encourage students, teachers, librarians and parents to make it their go-to web page for finding interesting and appropriate books for students to read.

Chart showing the number of Reading Practice quizzes by Interest Level

AR BookFinder lists the Book Level (a measure of text complexity) and the length of the book, along with other useful metrics like the publisher and ISBN. It also shows the Interest Level, which is an indication of the age of the students the book will appeal to. Lower Years titles are appropriate for those in the early years of primary school; Middle Years for older primary and younger secondary school children; and Upper Years for teenagers.

Because younger students have less stamina for reading, and books for older students tend to be longer, about half of our quizzes are on Middle Years titles.

Books with adult content and more mature themes will be designated Upper Years, and the summary will flag any content that would be unsuitable for younger readers. Summaries are a pithy overview of a book’s plot to help pique students’ interest, as well as to give teachers, librarians and parents some background information as they begin conversations about the books children are reading.

Using the Advanced Search tab, you can use AR BookFinder to locate books of the appropriate complexity level and interest level. With dozens of topics to search by, you can find quizzed books on specific subjects for cross-curricular learning or simply to follow hobbies and interests.

Accelerating learning for all

With the number of AR quizzes continually growing, the depth and breadth of motivational reading material available to students using AR is constantly increasing. We strive to provide quizzes on titles of every style and genre, subject and complexity level, to ensure that students are well supported as they read for pleasure. Our mission at Renaissance Learning is to accelerate learning for all, and we in the AR Content Department are proud to have contributed to that with the 27,000 quizzes we’ve made available so far… and more coming next week.

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