Tuesday, May 22, 2007

AR T-Shirt Day

AR is one of the major cogs of our reading program. While it is controversial in the library world, it’s a great motivator, especially with low income students who need lots of instant gratification. The culmination of our year is always AR T Shirt Day which comes round toward the middle of May.

It’s the day when every child who has earned a T-Shirt shows up wearing it and the day passes in a round of celebrations and general silliness & chaos. It takes either 50 or 100 points to earn a shirt, which means reading at least 50 books. I gave out 90 shirts this year – not to shabby a statistic for a school with 600 kids (K-5) that’s Title 1 and all that accompanies that Federal Moniker.

Among the many objectives of AR T-shirt day is that, the children who didn’t earn a shirt this year will be inspired to set that as their goal (goal setting is another objective) next year.

Luckily, the district always schedules a half day for teacher conferences. Nothing much ever gets done on a half day when there are only 5 days left in the school year so it’s a perfect time to schedule something that is totally disruptive.

We start the day by sticking stickers on every shirt we see. The goal quickly becomes ‘How many different stickers can I collect?”. Since only kids with T-shirts can have stickers, there is also an element of exclusivity. Human nature being what it is, there is something special about having something that someone else can’t have!

Every 30 minutes or so I get on the intercom and call the kids down to the library for a treat. This year I supplied Flaming Hot Cheetos, PowerAide, erasers, pencils, Snow cones and popcorn.

I had great fun with the popcorn. I spent the week prior to telling the kids that we were going to have something at AR T-Shirt day that everyone would want but only kids with T-Shirts could have. Told them that they would use one of their 5 senses to figure out what it was and that it wouldn’t be sight or hearing. It worked too, by the time the morning was over the irresistible scent of hot popcorn had wafted all the way to the back of the building.

Texas is the state where football is king. Schools halt classes to celebrate a championship team. Academics and the kids who shine at bookish endeavors almost always come in a poor second when compared to the mighty pigskin.

Not so, at my school –on one Friday in May the children who have done their reading homework all year are the center of attention, praised, and feted.

Oh, were that it was that way at every school.


landismom said...

Wow, congrats on your great readers! I'm impressed how many kids you had read more than 50 books. My daughter's school had a reading contest in March this year, and I was surprised how few kids actually competed in it, although I guess I shouldn't be.

Nancy said...


60 out of 500 is not a bad figure at all, and I suspect it will be even higher next year.

Thank you for being you.

MsAbcMom said...

I am sure that I have mentioned my like of AR before but as you know, it can be motivating to some. My daughter, a good reader, LOVES AR. She racked up the most points of all students at her school. She would take tests daily. She takes books around with her wherever she goes and figured that she needed to take the tests as well. When she found out that the Harry Potter books were worth 20 some points, you should have seen her eyes widen. The girl has read them all. She was so proud of her AR fanny pack that she won for the most points.

Suma said...

Thats amazing!! good to have so many kids reading..