How "Super Leaders" create "Super Readers" in the classroom

In their book Every Child A Super Reader, authors and literacy experts Pam Allyn and Ernest Morrell focus on the idea of “Super Readers”—students who are avid, passionate, and critical readers.

“The Super Reader is a child who enters a text with purpose. Regardless of platform (print or digital) and genre (fiction, informational, or poetry), she reads that text with deep comprehension and finishes it feeling satisfied, informed, and inspired,” they explain (p.16).

At Scholastic, we know that it takes a village to get kids to Super Reader status, and educators—"Super Leaders"—play a vital role in this learning process! In the recent SUPER LEADERS Create SUPER READERS Contest, we asked teachers across the country, how do you inspire reading in your classroom? The response to this prompt was overwhelming and we were deeply moved by the passion and dedication teachers put into their work every single day to positively impact student learning.

Check out excerpts from the winners’ SUPER LEADER stories below and read the full entries online at: http://www.scholastic.com/super-reader/contest.htm

To join the #SuperReader conversation, download resources, and more, visit the Super Reader website!

 

Week #1 Winner & Grand Prize Winner - Samantha Sorrell, 3rd Grade Teacher, Anderson, IN

Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., Marie Curie, and Jackie Robinson; these are not people my students will ever get to meet. However, books written about these long gone heroes bring them to life for my students.

I have the privilege of teaching a 2nd/3rd split class in a Title 1 school. Although most of our students are low income I still have the same expectations towards literacy as the wealthy schools in our area. I love using biographies to inspire my students to enjoy nonfiction. More importantly, to give them examples of people who have overcome adversities in their own lives to become great leaders and scholars. Many of my students have several areas of adversity in their own lives. From students in the foster care system, to students struggling with a family member who is incarcerated or students with learning disabilities.

I was able to have my student, Cordell last year in 2nd grade and he looped with me for 3rd grade. When he came to me last year he was a good reader but struggles with guidance, anger issues and instability. I encouraged him to read a biography on Jackie Robinson and do a bottle buddy project by making a 2 liter bottle to resemble him Robinson. By reading about how Robinson dealt with poverty, racism, and his father leaving to still be an honorable and respectful man helped inspire Cordell. Seeing how much Cordell's character traits were evolving by reading biographies I gave him more biographies to read. Cordell soaked up the story of peaceful protesting from Martin Luther King Jr. and has made himself a more peaceful person.

 

Week #2 Winner - Amanda Klare, 4th Grade Teacher, Fort Mitchell, KY

So often we as teachers find it hard to inspire our students to read for fun. I found that my students love to talk about their books with me whenever we are doing our daily "Status of the Class.” The only problem is that if I am not familiar with the book, we can't have in depth conversations about the book. I decided that I would start a book club that would be open to anyone who loves to read. I have eight students reading Al Capone Does My Shirts and committed to doing enrichment activities along with the book. Every Friday we meet to discuss the week's chapters. As we sat at our "Lunch Bunch Book Club" today, it was amazing to see readers of all levels discussing a book on a deep level, making predictions about what is in store for our main character and building their schema on a time period they had little knowledge about before starting the book. My students are already counting down the days until next Friday for our next book discussion. All of this makes my teacher heart smile!

 

Week #3 Winner - Kathy Iwanicki, 3rd Grade Teacher, East Granby, CT

Read aloud is the most important time of my day. Period. The end. I read aloud every. Single. Day. No excuses. Through our read alouds, we discuss such issues as poverty, disabilities, animal rights, and so much more. The characters come to life as we cheer for Ally, cry for Stella, debate the magic of Crenshaw, and so much more. Third graders who couldn't sit and who dreaded story time now rush to the carpet for fear of missing the next chapter. Books are discussed long after read aloud time has ended. It is through the read aloud that students fall in love for reading. It is then that they realize that reading is magic and has power. I love teaching third grade because characters and plots begin to become more complex, complicated, and interesting.

I know my classroom library well and I know my students well. My job is to match the books with the students, pushing them to read just slightly outside of their comfort zone.

 

Week #4 Winner - Amanda Fisher, 6th Grade Teacher, Troy, MI

There are three expectations in my classroom: Be kind, always try, and read—always, always read. Waiting for something? Read. Looking for something? Read. Feeling left out? Read. Need to calm down? Read. 

My classroom is centered around reading. We begin our time together with either independent reading or a read-aloud. The walls are adorned with "graffiti", where students can write their favorite quotes from a recent read. Once a month we participate in speed booking, where students grab a book from a stack and have just one minute to preview it by checking out the cover, reading the summary and if desired, a few words of the first chapter. Many students meet a book they would like to read through this activity. We’ve also had one Baker Cafe Book Tasting right in the classroom. Students were able to take more time with books they’ve never read, and from genres they usually do not choose. 

 

Congratulations to all of the winners!