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Joyce Siegert, right, library media specialist at Lincoln Elementary School, hands out Dairy Queen ice cream treats to Lincoln Elementary "Millionaires," students who read a million words during the school year. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Students become millionaires: ice cream and limo rides given to readers

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Dairy Queen in Bemidji was visited by more than 200 millionaires this week.

Students from Northern, J.W. Smith and Lincoln Elementary Schools who read more than one million words this year were treated like "millionaires" as they received a free limousine ride and ice cream as a reward for their reading milestones.

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"Millionaire rides are a big deal," said Joyce Siegert, library media specialist at Lincoln.

While the limo rides and free ice cream are incentives only used by three elementary schools, most of the schools in the Bemidji School District participate in the national reading program called Accelerated Reader, which is delivered through a company called Renaissance Learning. Schools use the same reading program, but it is up to each school to decide what kinds of incentives to give students.

The program involves books and technology. After students read a book, they log onto the Accelerated Reader program on a school computer and take a quiz. The quiz tests them on their reading, vocabulary and literacy skills. Each book is given a certain reading level. The higher the reading level, the more points students can earn. The computer program also tracks the number of words in each book. Once the students pass a book quiz, they earn points and their total number of words read accumulates.

"Teachers can watch their students' progress on a daily basis," Siegert said. "They rely on that information to keep track of how their kids are doing at all times."

Siegert said when she and others from Lincoln first used the Accelerated Reader program in 1996, they worried students would make fun of other students' reading levels.

"We worried about teasing, but we found students kept their reading levels to themselves," she said. "It doesn't matter to the kids. Those who have really high reading levels are some of the kids' heroes. They help each other pick out books. It's never been an issue."

Some students at Lincoln, Siegert said, make it to the million word level within the first month of school, while others students hit the million mark near the last day of school.

The Accelerated Reader program is not stressed as much in kindergarten because many students aren't able to read yet.

"It's still a wonderful challenge for them," Siegert said. "In the past, we've only had one kindergartener read a million words."

Siegert said this year 124 students from grades K-5 at Lincoln were millionaire readers as of Wednesday. Lincoln's school record was set by one student (who is now a 10th-grader) who read 20 million words in one year. This year the top reader at Lincoln read eight million words.

"Teachers would not give this program up for anything," Siegert said. "In our school, everybody does it. The kids practice goal setting and in the end they become stronger readers."

Stephen Pfleger, library media specialist at Northern Elemenentary School, said the top reader at Northern read 4.8 million words this year. She now holds the school record.

"It's a good program," Pfleger said of the Accelerated Reader program. "It helps kids want to read. To read a million words is not an easy thing to do."

This year 62 students from Northern were "Millionaire" readers.

Like Lincoln and J.W. Smith Schools, the Parent Teacher Organization from Northern Elementary sponsored the limo rides and ice cream.

"They budget for it every year," Pfleger said. "They felt strongly about the program. It's wonderful."

Bemidji Middle School also participates in the Accelerated Reader program, but they offer a different incentive for their students.

"We have a 500 K Club where students have half a year to read 500,000 words," said BMS media paraprofessional Erin Curran. "Those who reach that level get to enjoy an ice cream social."

Curran added the school also has a Featured Readers program where students write and display a review of their favorite books for other classmates to view.

"It's a way to give some of the kids in here who read every day a little recognition for their hard work," Curran said. "And it's a way for students to find books they might like to read."

Other schools, like Horace May, Solway and Central elementary, award students with various types of reading certificates at certain times of the school year.

Y awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

Dairy Queen in Bemidji was visited by more than 200 millionaires this week.

Students from Northern, J.W. Smith and Lincoln Elementary Schools who read more than one million words this year were treated like "millionaires" as they received a free limousine ride and ice cream as a reward for their reading milestones.

"Millionaire rides are a big deal," said Joyce Siegert, library media specialist at Lincoln.

While the limo rides and free ice cream are incentives only used by three elementary schools, most of the schools in the Bemidji School District participate in the national reading program called Accelerated Reader, which is delivered through a company called Renaissance Learning. Schools use the same reading program, but it is up to each school to decide what kinds of incentives to give students.

The program involves books and technology. After students read a book, they log onto the Accelerated Reader program on a school computer and take a quiz. The quiz tests them on their reading, vocabulary and literacy skills. Each book is given a certain reading level. The higher the reading level, the more points students can earn. The computer program also tracks the number of words in each book. Once the students pass a book quiz, they earn points and their total number of words read accumulates.

"Teachers can watch their students' progress on a daily basis," Siegert said. "They rely on that information to keep track of how their kids are doing at all times."

Siegert said when she and others from Lincoln first used the Accelerated Reader program in 1996, they worried students would make fun of other students' reading levels.

"We worried about teasing, but we found students kept their reading levels to themselves," she said. "It doesn't matter to the kids. Those who have really high reading levels are some of the kids' heroes. They help each other pick out books. It's never been an issue."

Some students at Lincoln, Siegert said, make it to the million word level within the first month of school, while others students hit the million mark near the last day of school.

The Accelerated Reader program is not stressed as much in kindergarten because many students aren't able to read yet.

"It's still a wonderful challenge for them," Siegert said. "In the past, we've only had one kindergartener read a million words."

Siegert said this year 124 students from grades K-5 at Lincoln were millionaire readers as of Wednesday. Lincoln's school record was set by one student (who is now a 10th-grader) who read 20 million words in one year. This year the top reader at Lincoln read eight million words.

"Teachers would not give this program up for anything," Siegert said. "In our school, everybody does it. The kids practice goal setting and in the end they become stronger readers."

Stephen Pfleger, library media specialist at Northern Elemenentary School, said the top reader at Northern read 4.8 million words this year. She now holds the school record.

"It's a good program," Pfleger said of the Accelerated Reader program. "It helps kids want to read. To read a million words is not an easy thing to do."

This year 62 students from Northern were "Millionaire" readers.

Like Lincoln and J.W. Smith Schools, the Parent Teacher Organization from Northern Elementary sponsored the limo rides and ice cream.

"They budget for it every year," Pfleger said. "They felt strongly about the program. It's wonderful."

Bemidji Middle School also participates in the Accelerated Reader program, but they offer a different incentive for their students.

"We have a 500 K Club where students have half a year to read 500,000 words," said BMS media paraprofessional Erin Curran. "Those who reach that level get to enjoy an ice cream social."

Curran added the school also has a Featured Readers program where students write and display a review of their favorite books for other classmates to view.

"It's a way to give some of the kids in here who read every day a little recognition for their hard work," Curran said. "And it's a way for students to find books they might like to read."

Other schools, like Horace May, Solway and Central elementary, award students with various types of reading certificates at certain times of the school year.

awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

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