When it comes to investigating mysteries, the students in the Locust Corner Elementary School second grade classrooms of Erica Schulte, Jana Sandlin and Leigh Fritz have plenty of practice.
Nearly every week this school year, these young investigators have worked to solve clues that will reveal the identity of their Friday Mystery Reader. Will it be a parent, a grandparent, another teacher in the building or maybe the district superintendent? Only their teachers know for certain, and they never reveal the answer until Friday.
Students don’t always solve the mystery, but they always enjoy having a Mystery Reader as a guest.
Ms. Schulte first experienced Mystery Readers when she was student teaching. She enjoyed the program so much that she brought it with her to Locust Corner. The big challenge for the 2020-2021 school year was how to host Mystery Readers during a pandemic.
The challenge was resolved in two ways. For parents, grandparents and others who are not on staff with NREVSD, they can join the classrooms virtually or they can provide a video of themselves reading. NREVSD staff members can read to the students in-person.
“It has been a lot of fun with my class,” Ms. Sandlin said. “They look forward to our Friday Mystery Guest Reader. We've had parents live on our SmartBoard through a Google Meet and some who have sent in a video of themselves reading. Of course, we have had in-person teacher/staff readers, too.”
Mystery Readers use sign up genius to select their date. That’s followed up with a call. The teachers talk with the Mystery Readers to develop clues as to their identity. Sometimes, when Mystery Readers ask, they also offer book suggestions.
One of the Mystery Readers was a grandmother, Ms. Fritz said. She met with class in a Google Meet.
“It was our first experience with that and it worked out pretty well,” Ms. Fritz said. “I think the students get excited about having somebody read to them.”
“By bringing in guest readers, virtually or in person, students also see that their parents and others want to be involved in their education. And I think that’s important for students to know,” Ms. Schulte said.
After each Mystery Reader finishes their book, the students have an opportunity to ask three questions. From this, the students learn about the roles the readers play in the community and learn more about the parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles of their classmates.
The second-grade team members said they are interested in growing the Mystery Reader program in future years and expanding it to include other guest readers from the community like police officers, firefighters, and others to help grow the students’ understanding of their community.