FRONTENAC — Frank Layden Elementary School first graders dressed like superheroes for their improvements in reading.

Students who excel in their reading score are selected to wear a red cape, a motivation tool used by teachers to do well on tests.

The red cape is part of a program called Imagine Station, also known as Istation, which provides animated, game-like educational technology for various subjects. The State of Kansas pays for the programming at Frank Layden.

The school was recently recognized as one of the four national winners of the inaugural Istation Red Cape Moment Contest.

First Grade Teacher Annie Robertson shared how she motivates her class to do well in school in her contest submission.

“I wrote exactly what I do to help them do well on test,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be one of them.”

For the past two years, the school has used Istation for reading and where they have monthly reading tests, which helps gauge the students’ letter knowledge, reading comprehension and more.

The tests have individualized lessons based on each student’s score and level.

“It helps improve their score for next time,” Robertson said.

Through the program, students work at their own level at their own pace, those in a higher level continue to work into the next level.

She said it gives students something to work for and brings out the competitive nature in the students.

Robertson said several students have already completed the program and get to walk around with a red cape on to display their achievement.

“It is really working, they really like the capes,” she said. “Low performing students do better if you dangle that cape out there and all of a sudden they try.

“This is something I know will motivate them.”

More than just a red cape, it adds to the hard work teachers and students do to improve their scores, Robertson said.

“The cape helps them celebrate their success,” she said. “Everyone is recognized for their hard work and it’s a way to focus on the positive.”

Before the contest, Robertson had one adult size cape which she used in her class and because of the contest, she now has 20 child size capes she plans on sharing with the other first grade teachers so they can share the motivation.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.