How many times do teachers have to do all the hard work themselves? In the case of trying to find out if their students have actually read the graded reader books they have selected with some degree of comprehension, the answer is: “Not this time”, thanks to the efforts of MReader.org. They have a huge database of over 3200 graded reader quizzes.
MReader is designed to be an aid to schools wishing to implement an Extensive Reading program. It allows teachers (and students) to verify that they have read and understood their reading. This is done via a simple 10-item quiz with the items drawn from a larger item bank of 20-30 items so that each student receives a different set of items. Students who pass a quiz receive a cover of their book on their own home page on the site. http://mreader.org/mreaderadmin/s/html/about.html
The pedagogical thrust behind this is that more reading is better than less reading, even if the extra reading isn’t necessarily fully comprehended. Students are set goals by their teachers of a number of words. This is generally in the thousands, for example, 5, 10, 20,000 words. To reach the goal students take the 15 minute, multiple choice open book tests for each book. If they pass, the number of words in that book are credited towards the student’s target. The default setting for if they fail is for the student to get no credit for that book. Apart from knowing if they have passed or failed, there is no other feedback.
The intention isn’t to aid student comprehension with feedback so they can check where they did well and where they misunderstood the text. The aim is to encourage the students to read the book with a modicum of comprehension, knowing that if they fail, they will not get a second chance at the test and so no word credit for the book. The pass mark can be set by the administrator – some suggestions are that 50 – 60% is adequate. Teachers can, in fact, allow students to retake a test if they want, but the tried and tested method of not allowing retakes seems to be the quickest way of encouraging students to engage in extensive reading.
This is an excellent example of crowd sourcing whereby the questions have been contributed by teachers using the website volunteering to create quizzes for books that their students are reading but which are not covered by existing quizzes. Also, this is powered by the open source LMS, Moodle. Funding comes Tom Robb’s research funds at Kyoto Sangyo University and the Extensive Reading Foundation. However, there is now an eminently reasonable request for voluntary contributions from the institutions that use it as the growing size of the project is threatening to exceed the capacity of the resources available.