This is "Super-Reader!"
SuperReader uses many different strategies for figuring out unknown words and making meaning while reading. SuperReader prepares for reading by looking at the cover and title of a book, reading the blurb on the back and taking a picture walk. SuperReader reads many books, shares them with a reading partner and builds his reading muscles every day. SuperReader is gentle with books and understands how precious they are.
SuperReader is cool! Unlike....
Super 'Bad' Reader!
Super 'Bad' Reader likes to destroy books. Super 'Bad' Reader is not gentle with them. In fact Super 'Bad' Reader rips, throws and eats books. Super 'Bad' Reader pulls them away from SuperReaders who are allowing their imaginations to whisk them away to fantastic places while reading. Super 'Bad' Reader gives up when there are difficult words or phrases and does not try any strategy for figuring out tricky words. Super 'Bad' Reader reads words without thinking of their meaning or visualizing the images the author is describing. Super 'Bad' Reader makes young children cry. Super 'Bad' Reader needs a patient and loving teacher.
The above characters were created by my first grade students. They thought of the names (Lauren and I were not so keen on the term "BAD" because as you teachers and parents know...it is not the child who is bad, it is the action. If a child hits another child it is that action that is wrong - it is not a reflection on the character of the child. But, kids aren't so PC and insisted on the name. So we let it slide.) The students chose the colors, the costume, the attitude, the entire look. They are wearing masks because you are not supposed to know if they are male or female. Lauren took the rough sketches we created together as a class and crafted the final versions pictured here.
The evolution of SuperReader and Super 'Bad' Reader is an interesting one.
I have been fortunate in my teaching career to work with a principal and vice principal whose educational philosophy meshes with my own. I have rarely been asked to do anything that I found to be a waste of time or that was in opposition with my stance on education. This seems to be rare in my field. When teachers get together to bitch about their schools I am the odd man out because I am without horror stories to share.
But recently Lauren and I were asked to create rubrics for our students. They would provide the students with clear expectations for work in all academic areas. I didn't really understand what this would look like for first graders. I am quite comfortable creating rubrics and guidelines for the college course I teach but I was really at a loss when it came to doing this for 5 and 6 year old children.
So, we brainstormed and came up with a way to visually represent the expectations for our students as readers. We found a way to take a task which was initally confusing and turn it into an amazing source of information. It makes me think of one of my favorite childhood sayings...
I am still not sure if SuperReader and Super 'Bad' Reader satisfy the requirement but it has been such a cool experience. The characters have sparked interest in the children and have given them a motivating goal that is at once understandable and relatable. It is winning challenges like this that makes teaching that much sweeter...or should I say SUPER!