Monday, January 28, 2013

Can Spiderman Teach Literacy?

I'm learning so much as a new first grade teacher. I'm finding my way...learning how to be the first grade teacher I need to be (not the one that someone else is). I'm listening to advice - taking what works and discarding the rest. I'm trying new things to meet the kids where they are. 

But I'm still pretty focused on doing things the "right way." I follow my teaching guides closely, especially in teaching literacy. Oh, I've gone my own way a few times and decide to read books that I enjoy as part of the thinking, reading, comprehending process. But I've been focused on using familiar and "tried and true" children's books.

Something I've been trying to get working in my room is a simple classroom library that kids can use to take home books to read (and use for independent reading in the classroom). I struggled to get this working. Finally I got some books pulled together into groupings and instigated a "sort of" process that will develop the rest of this year. (And next year will be so much better!)

As we have started this new venture, some kids have started bringing other books to classroom. And, often, they want me to read them to the class. One of my Spiderman-obsessed boys brought a Spiderman book. (It was a Spiderman story in book form, not comic book form. And it was written at an appropriate level.) And he wanted me to read it.

Now this book is not "great literature" and probably won't become a children's book classic. I hesitated to read it and put him off for a day or so. (And, truly, we didn't have time on those days.) I remembered something that I read in The Book Whisperer. (I read it a couple of years ago. I may need to read it again for my new adventure!) She stresses finding books that kids want to read and letting them choose books that interest them. So I decided we would read it.

As we read, we noted that Spiderman was a compound word (something we're working on now). We made predictions and inferences about the story throughout. Kids asked questions about what was happening and we reasoned through some of the gaps in the story that were not explained. All the things we do when we read other books or leveled readers. Spiderman can teach literacy!

I learned a lesson that day, too. It doesn't really matter what we read. We can make connections and draw conclusions. We can talk about sounds and characters and setting. And they were engaged...as engaged as any other book we read. I wouldn't want to read only these books - but all reading can be valuable.

Who knows what we'll read next?!

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