Below you will find a picture of a pretty happy bunch of students. Our class was the first class at our school to earn our Accelerated Reader shirts (provided by PTO-THANKS).
The students have to read grade-level appropriate books and then take a multiple choice comprehension test on the computer in order to earn points.
In my classroom, it is a team effort. Once a student has earned the 20 points necessary to earn a shirt. They adopt a less proficient reader and read books with them, during independent reading. They pick books to read that they haven't read (or taken a test on) themselves, so they are not having to "mark time" while helping out their buddies.
In order to better illustrate my point with my students, I share with them that when a platoon of Marines are completing an obstacle course, they work together in order to successfully finish the obstacles.
For example, if they are climbing over an extremely tall wall and not everyone in the platoon is strong at the skill of climbing, the most proficient climbers will climb first. Then, they will secure a rope and toss it down to help his peers. They remain there to help their platoon until all have safely and successfully conquered the obstacle.
I like to think that these situations are analogous. This year, our universal theme is relationships. Relationships between one another, in nature, and in history. I like to provide as many opportunities as I can for my students to build those relationships.
I'll admit, it puts joy in my heart to see these students "tossing a rope down" to support their peers.
Here they are, looking happy as clams: