Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reading With the Stars

     For the past couple of years, I've been working on a curriculum writing committee in my school district. About once a month, I get together with a team of  kindergarten teachers from other schools to work on developing new units of study for our Readers' Workshop curriculum.  Since I don't get to see these teachers very often, it's a great chance to gossip share information, brainstorm ideas and do some meaningful work.  I'll admit, we wander off task from time to time catching up, telling funny kindergarten stories, complaining about assessments, etc., but we also stumble onto some great ideas together.
     The last time we met, we were discussing ways to put some new "umph" into our independent reading times. After three months of Readers' Workshop, we found that we had hit somewhat of a plateau in terms of increasing stamina and focus. We all felt that the kids needed something to give them a little inspiration so they could read "longer and stronger."  So, Louise, Cindy (my kinder-colleagues) and I put our heads together to find a solution. We talked about how much our kiddos LOVE to read to someone, especially someone special.  When they have some kind of special "audience" to read to, they seem to really stretch themselves as readers.  We've tried having the kids bring in stuffed animals from home to read to, but found that some kids just got distracted by their furry friends. So we kicked it around a bit and came up with a gimmick strategy that has been super successful in my classroom
     In my best Tom Bergeron voice, "Welcome to Reading with the Stars!" We brainstormed a list of celebrities, characters and other special people (the principal, the Art teacher, etc.) that the kids get excited about.  I found pictures of these special people (or cornered them with my camera to get one) and mounted them inside manilla folders. The kids pick a star to keep in their book box for the week, and then during independent reading, they stand up the folder in front of them and voila! - an instant audience. When I started Reading with the Stars a few weeks ago, my class was stuck at 7 minutes of independent reading before they would start to get a little wiggly. I am happy to say that Katy Perry, Justin Beiber, Cinderella and Darth Vadar have helped us increase our stamina to 10 minutes!  I've also noticed that the kids are also reading more confidently, wondering aloud about their books and are not as fidgety.  Take a look at my little sweeties in action...

     If you're looking for a little boost for your workshop time, grab some celebrity head shots and give it a whirl. (I would love to share my picture file but since I just found the pics on the internet, I'm not sure what copyright issues there might be. If you'd like to see the list of the celebs I used, I can post that - just let me know).  Reading with the Stars might not have a "mirror-ball" trophy like DWTS does, but with this plan, everyone's a winner!
I'm hoping to expand my A-list so if you have any ideas for some new celebs, I'd love a comment!
Have a great night,


  1. Adorable idea! If you don't have the five One Direction boys, I would think they would be very very popular in my class.

  2. LOVE this....will be busy looking for pics, thanks !!

  3. I love this idea and I think my kids would too!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    Clearly Kindergarten

  4. Super cute idea Donna! I'm going to try it with my first graders! Thanks for sharing!


  5. i like this idea :-)

  6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! It would go great with my Read to Someone part of Daily 5!! Thanks for sharing!

    Kinder Kraziness

  7. Hi Donna,
    Just wanted to let you know that I thought this blog post was great, so I shared it in my Thumbs up Thumbs down post (as a Thumbs up of course).
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  8. So creative!! Do you mind sharing the list?! I'm scratching my brain for people!

  9. Such an AWESOME idea! I am going to ask my class who they would like to read to. I am sure that Barbie and Sponge Bob will make the list! Thanks for sharing this one!

    Sommer Pride

  10. This is wonderful! I can't wait to use it for my teachers in The District of Columbia Public Schools! AWESOME! And SIMPLE! So simple! :)

  11. I can not wait to try this with my children! I love the way Kindergarten teachers think!

    Sandra Graves
    Shelby, NC

  12. How adorable! I'm so doing this! Thanks for the great idea!


  13. Hi Donna,
    It looks as though these posts are almost a year old so I hope you still keep in contact with this blog. I would love a list of the celebrities you used (I don't think I saw it posted).

  14. Pam,
    If you send me your email address I'll send you my file with all of the pics that I use!


  15. I would love to have the pictures!!

  16. I love your reading with the stars!

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  19. I am also agreeing with this great idea of inspiration and it help them to increasing stamina and focus. Actually kids need something to give them a little inspiration so they could read "longer and stronger." Thank you for sharing