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How do you inspire reading in your classroom?

Thank you to all the SUPER LEADERS who shared their triumphant SUPER READER stories! The passion and dedication you show for your work and for your students is the same passion and dedication that has impressed, motivated, and informed the underlying mission of Scholastic Education, to positively impact the lives of children by engaging and inspiring them to grow intellectually and personally, beginning with literacy.

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Congratulations to our Grand Prize Winner Samantha Sorrell, 3rd Grade teacher from Anderson, IN.

Read her SUPER LEADER story below.

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.

Since November 2016, students, some of our staff, and I are taking on a 30 Book Challenge! We are reading books of all shapes, sizes, and genres to grow our list of thirty books read by June 9, 2017. This challenge has inspired many student-to-student recommendations, and opened conversations about reading with teachers from all subject areas.

Sixth graders have also made food to match the theme or a character from a favorite book. Called our Edible Book Project, food was chosen based on characteristics of shape, color, and taste to best match a character or theme.

Many students who were admittedly reluctant readers at the start of school have grown to enjoy reading, mostly because I want them to wildly go at it—find books they love by abandoning books they don’t, and to share what they’ve read through a book talk to the class or a social media post instead of a quiz or written response. It’s too important in middle school for students to have autonomy in how and what they read in an effort to grow as life-long readers and learners. That is what I nurture and why, more than anything, I want to be able to provide them with the books they need and are interested in.

Congratulations Amanda!

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, animals 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.

Last year, we participated in the March Book Madness global project. Because of the variety of readers in my classroom, I do both the picture book and the middle-grade book category. The middle-grade category is challenging for grade three. I had one student who wasn't confident to try. He did have good reading skills. I matched him up with Kwame Alexander's book The Crossover. He loved it. Every time he read, during reading and at home, he would come to me and tell me how much he loved it and what was happening. That book, I truly believe, made him a reader. His reading took off after that. Graphic novels have also been a game-changer for many students, especially those with attention issues. The story lines are complex enough to keep them interested and the illustrations help keep their focus.

Students in my classroom are successful reading these higher-level books because we discuss so much through my read aloud. They know things they should be looking for. The complexity of the text keeps them interested.

My classroom begins and ends with the read aloud. It is everything.

Congratulations Kathy!

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!

Congratulations Amanda!

Week 1 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.

Cordell has become less angry, works harder on being kind and patient. Other teachers have commented on his improved attitude. Cordell said he especially likes reading about black men, 'I have seen how much they have overcome in the past and have learned a lot about my people and my nation'. Cordell gains inspiration from these biographies to have good character traits like integrity, courage and kindness. He now has good examples waiting for him with the turn of a page.

His next project will be to learn about Thurgood Marshall, who when he was Cordell's age would have to read the U.S. Constitution in detention. This influenced him to learn about the law and become the first African American on the Supreme Court. Cordell wants to become a judge when he grows up and I can't wait for him to learn about all the obstacles Marshall overcame to become the historical leader we know today.

Congratulations Samantha!

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