As a teacher in a low-income/high poverty school district, my students are faced with several challenges both in and out of the classroom. Despite the many challenges they face, I try to create a positive and caring classroom.
My students are very enthusiastic!
They love to get up and move around, read, and create! Many come from single-parent households or are considered homeless if they live with grandparents. Due to their circumstances, they miss out on many "typical" experiences. I may not be able to control their home lives, however, I can certainly control their experience during the school day by creating a caring, safe, and creative classroom. By doing this, I am hoping to create lifelong learners!
A sense of community and scholarly inclusion is created when students laugh, gasp, and weep in unison while reading the same engrossing grade-level novel. The experience becomes one of not just reading the book together but of collectively living the book as the characters, plot, and life lessons unfold and draw students in ever more deeply.
Give kids a great novel, and on a very profound level, they all can quite soon bring something to the table, even as the nuts and bolts of reading may still need a little tightening for some.
Critical thinking and reasoned evaluation require increasing sophistication, but even developing readers are eminently capable of startling insight and informed opinion—if the teacher has given them the opportunities and encouragement to actually share their ideas.
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