At Corlears, the curriculum comes alive at each age level. Students learn about and experience a variety of topics in a number of engaging and unique ways. As they master topics, children become empowered learners; able to ask thoughtful questions and engage in meaningful investigations. When it comes to literacy, the approach is no different. In the Ks, the students are taking ownership of their emerging skills by becoming Super Readers! Using this unique strategy, Corlears kindergartners are building confidence and getting excited about reading and writing.
For many children, the dream of becoming a super hero is never far from their minds. At Corlears, students have the chance to access their super powers in the classroom - through the Teachers College Super Reader program. Thanks to "Reader Man," a super hero with incredible literacy powers, students are living out their fantasies while building the skills they need to be successful learners. The mysterious and powerful “Reader Man” visits the kindergarten classrooms and leaves notes behind. Each note reveals a super reading power that the students can employ. Each “power” is a strategy for becoming a stronger reader. Powers including re-read power (reading the same word or passage multiple times to gain a better understanding) and pointing power (pointing to each word as one reads it). Notes from Reader Man provide children with the tools they need to not only feel comfortable with their new reading skills, but to feel confident in their abilities and inspired by the power of literacy as a tool in their lives. Further, students take turns wearing a special super hero cape in class as they embody the powers of Reader Man and practice their developing skills. The Super Reader program builds self esteem, self efficacy and provides students with yet another tool for self expression. The program also extends dramatic play; allowing children to see reading as an exciting activity worthy of their attention. As students become Super Readers, they use their new skills to improve their writing skills and learn to write for an audience.
In addition to the Super Reader program, students also engage in Writers Workshop. As the Ks practice their writing, they gain a deeper understanding of how to communicate through written word. Just this past week, kindergartners wrote autobiographical stories to share with their classes. In the process of documenting their experiences in their stories, students were tasked with answering the questions of “Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How?” By doing this, the Ks begin applying the fundamentals of writing, and build upon their skills by learning to check their own work and explore the elements of storytelling. In addition, each child included an illustration to further communicate the ideas of the story; giving them an opportunity to see how images can support text. Further, using images to decode words is yet another skills they can utilize as they work to become Super Readers. Throughout their work in Writers Workshop, the Ks learn how to craft stories for an audience, further exploring the power of literacy and their own experience as both the reader and the writer.This multi-layered approach is indicative of the way Corlears teaches various subjects; viewing the topic as a whole as opposed to isolated units.
The students’ new found super powers are a reflection of the strong base they have built throughout the first semester of the school year. During the fall, the curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of literacy including phonics and sound/symbol correspondence. These skills are at the core of what enables students to decode words, and they help to lay the foundation for the more complex skills of fluent reading and writing. As the year progresses, the curriculum builds upon their emerging abilities, and provides opportunities to reinforce these essential skills while building up to more advanced applications and tasks. In both kindergarten classrooms it is clear that literacy is not only taught effectively, but in an innovative way that builds a genuine excitement within each student.
The Super Reader program is yet another example of Corlears' immersive approach to education. Reader Man takes on a life of his own in each classroom, and is often a topic of conversation among its students. As the program progresses, the children look forward to developing new skills and discovering new strategies that Reader Man shares. Through this playful program, our Ks view literacy as a true strength - and learn that by challenging themselves as learners and using their developing skills, they all can become superheroes.