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Vicky Moore


"I think the most fun for the kids is the anticipation and guessing who the Mystery Reader is through the clues," says second grade teacher Vicky Moore.

Vicky Moore posts a sign and rolls out the red carpet for her class's "Mystery Readers."

Approximately three times each month, a guest reader -- usually a school staff member or students family member -- appears in her classroom at Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary in Temecula, California.

Prior to the readers unveiling, students are given five clues to lead them to the identity of the surprise reader. Family members pick a date to visit the class and send Moore five facts about themselves via e-mail. The facts, or clues, are organized to move from general to very specific. "I make sure parents or family members keep their participation a secret, and I start out with very general clues, like I live in California.," Moore told Education World. "That keeps interest level high. In the beginning, it could be anyone's grandpa, for example. As clues get more specific, I see their eyes light up as they think -- 'Hey, I think that's my grandpa. He likes tennis and he has a pug...'"

This year's first surprise reader was the school's new principal, Joe Mueller.

Moore introduced the "Mystery Reader" concept at a Back to School Night event during the first week of school, and it was enthusiastically embraced by her students' families. "I have lots of volunteers. Grandparents, siblings, and parents have shown interest," Moore reports. "When and if I need to fill in gaps, Ive asked our school librarian, front office staff, and physical education teacher to read."

In preparation for a visit from a Mystery Reader, Moore displays a sign all week in her front window to build excitement for Friday's event. On the special day, she literally rolls out the red carpet at the entrance to her classroom.

"Our brand new principal was our first Mystery Reader of the year," said Moore. "The kids thought it was our custodian until the last clue mentioned wearing a tie to school!"


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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected].

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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