Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life as a Super Reader: Lessons 1 & 2

You must know that one of the best things about teaching kindergarten is your students' ability to believe whatever you tell them.  Like the magic of Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, or leprechauns ... or Spiderman??!!  Yes, even believing that Spiderman came to our classroom to tell us how to become the best readers possible!  

This new reading unit transitions us from focusing on retelling emergent storybook stories (reading from memory and picture support) to focusing on the actual print in the book.  Moving away from telling what we think the author could be saying to what the author actually is saying.  Away from rereading stories we've already heard aloud to reading brand new, on-our-level stories using our very own reading 'superpowers.' 

Examples of these "powers" include but are not limited to: pointer power, partner power, letter power, picture power, reread power, fix-it-up power, etc.  Parents, you'll get a mini anchor-chart of these powers once we've gone over all of them. This chart will stay in your child's bag of books to come back and forth between school and home.   

We've only had two lessons in this unit so far.  But these lessons are SO EXCITING and CONVINCING and MAKE STUDENTS WANT TO READ SO MUCH that even just two of them are powerful! 

So let's take a look at the first one.  On Thursday, I sat down and pulled out a book to begin my mini-lesson.  Camryn couldn't help but interrupt. "There's something there," he said, and pointed.  Note: 5-year-olds will always notice something out of place in the classroom.  Especially when it has spiderwebs on it.

"Oh, you're right!" I said. I picked it up carefully, not wanting to get spiderwebs on my hand.  "It says Room 304. Should we go find that room?" "YES!" The kids shouted. We ran to the door, thinking it was a good idea to find out what room we were in to know which direction to head. "OUR ROOM IS 304!" someone shouted. We rushed back inside. The kids were eager to know what was inside. I asked, "Are you sure I should open this? There could be .... spiders inside!" They looked uneasy, but they were certain they wanted to know what was inside. "It's a package!" Camryn kept saying.

I reached in and pulled out some more cobwebs. 
Thanks, Mrs. Buzzell, for capturing all these ridiculous facial expressions.

Then I pulled out a letter. "READ IT!" all the kids shouted. 

I began reading. I paused. "I wonder who wrote this?" I asked. 
"YOU DID!" Tyce shouted.
"Tyce," I said, "Look at this handwriting. It's terrible. My handwriting is much better than this. Do you really think that I wrote this?" All the other kids chimed in, "NO! Her handwriting is WAYYY better!"  Tyce still wasn't convinced.

By the time I got to the end of the letter, I asked Colin to come read who signed it. He said "Spiderman." I said, "No way! I think you must have read that wrong.  Yuto, can you take a look at it?" Yuto looked it over. "YUP. IT SAYS SPIDERMAN."

Here's where the kids got really excited.
It was time to see what special tool was inside. 
WOW! Finger flashlights! We got to wear them and go around the room, highlighting words we could read. Students found sight words, other words they know, letters and letter blends.  Then students were able to use them to highlight words as they read their books. 

On Friday before lunch, I started reading the book Skeleton Cat.  I told the kids we'd finish it when we got back from lunch.  We came in, got our book boxes, and sat down to finish the story.  Camryn shouted "THERE'S ANOTHER ONE!" but I kept talking about Skeleton Cat.  Other students joined in, saying, "LOOK! LOOK MRS. RICHARDSON! THERE'S ANOTHER ONE!" I paused and looked at them. "Another what?" "ANOTHER PACKAGE!!!" they said excitedly.

Sure enough, there was another envelope sitting in the same spot. "No," I said, "I'm fairly certain that's the same package from yesterday. Let's find out what happens to Skeleton Cat!" Greyden said "No, it can't be the same one! You put yesterday's up there," and pointed to my desk. "Oh, you're right!" I told him. "I guess it must be a new one! Should I open it?" "YES!" They all screamed.

"But we might not get something we want this time," I cautioned them.  They didn't care. They wanted me to open it. Again there was a letter.  (I didn't get photos of this one, it happened too quickly. Mrs. Buzzell was out of the room and Mrs. Dean was with the kids as I was setting up. I mean, as Spiderman came by. I wasn't able to give her my phone in time.) This time it said:

Super Readers, I will be secretly visiting you and giving you clues to become the MOST SUPER readers on Earth! You will find the first super power in here! -Spiderman

And in the envelope, we found (among extra spiderwebs):
"What do you think these are for? I don't understand this at all," I said. Annaley said "I think they're for pointing!" "Oh, yes," I said, "They must be for pointing! I put a glow-in-the-dark witch finger on each of my fingers and began playing with them before pointing to each word in Skeleton Cat with all five of my fingers at once.  "NOOOOOOOOO," all the students shouted, "YOU HAVE TO SHARE!" I told them if I shared, then I couldn't tap my fingers and make spooky noises. "YOU HAVE TO SHARE," they insisted. "Well, how many are we supposed to get," I asked. "ONE!!" they said.  "Oh, I guess that makes sense," I agreed. I let each student come and get a finger before meeting their partner back-to-back for independent reading. 

As we get new tools to highlight our SUPER READING POWERS, these will get added to our bags of books.  To coincide with our new print work, students now have bags of books to take home each night.  Students will shop for new books each week based on their specified shopping labels, which tell them how many books to choose from each labeled bin.  These labels will change as student reading levels change.  Also included in reading bags are our sorting journals (so students can practice sorts at home), library books, poems, and book club badges.  

And, you know, since the kiddos need to shop for their own books, I needed to stock up our library with some good ones:


  1. Can you tell me more about how you introduce the other "powers"?

    1. Shauna, I also wrote this post about some of the other powers:

      If you have specific questions I'd be happy to answer them!

    2. I saw your other post, thanks! You are full of creative ideas! Can you explain more about Fix it Up Power?

    3. Thanks!! For Fix-It-Up power, Spiderman asks the kids to self-monitor their reading by asking: "Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?" He leaves them with a bookmark reminding them of the three things they need to ask themselves when decoding a tricky word.

      I tried to scan all of the letters I've written from Spiderman, but of course the copier got jammed halfway through and some of them got messed up. Tomorrow I'm going to scan them again and post them for other teachers to use in their unit if they'd like! Hopefully that will help some more. :)

    4. Shauna, find the letters here: !

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your help has been great! My kindergarten as been visited by a certain superhero by the name of SUPER READER MAN--and they LOVE it! Thanks for the inspiration and guidance!

  3. What treat did Spiderman bring when introducing first and last letter power?


  5. I love your idea of giving the students a smaller version of the Super Power for their book bags/boxes. Do you have a copy of that I could look at? Thanks for your fun ideas!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas!