My school is located in a predominantly low-income community on the west side of Chicago in a neighborhood called Humboldt Park. All of my students receive a free
or reduced price lunch, and most eat their first meal of the day at school.
Gang violence, drugs, and crime are everyday features of the neighborhood. However, among the craziness of the neighborhood live some of the most committed parents I have had the privilege of working with!
Despite the socioeconomic hardships of their community, my students are eager and enthusiastic to learn and are some of the most empathetic and compassionate little humans I have ever known! They have a resiliency unmatched by any other group of students I have taught. The majority of my students come from homes that are plagued by poverty, instability, violence, and other traumatizing circumstances that are often associated with urban poverty. And yet, they endure with smiles on their faces and dreams in their hearts!
My colleagues and I strive every day to empower our students and to help them actualize their greatness and potential!
My 7th graders love to discuss, debate, and problem-solve in their small groups. They are often called upon to collaborate on a task that includes discussion around characterization, theme, conflict, literary/poetic devices, setting, figurative language, and more. For example, in a recent lesson on how connotation and tone are used to shape meaning, students were working together to unpack the meaning of words used in newspaper articles about the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. The individual desks that my students currently use are old, falling apart, cumbersome, and make the collaborative learning process disjointed!
Research shows that meaningful learning occurs when students are engaged in an authentic task that calls upon students to problem-solve and collaborate!
Our current outdated desks simply disjoint the learning process and make it difficult for my students to engage in the student-centered learning we do on a daily basis. My 7th graders are also growing at a speed unmatched by our current student desks! Their long lanky legs hang out the sides, their knees touch the bottom of the desks, and they often sit to the side to avoid their legs being cramped inside the desk.
The new tables I am requesting will help cultivate a culture of collaboration, nurture group discussion, promote an environment of problem-solving and simply make the learning environment physically comfortable for my middle school students. After all, sitting uncomfortably for 90 minutes in a desk unsuitable to your height hinders the learning process!
One of the seven tables will also be used in the back of the room for small groups of students who are currently in book clubs. These groups of students meet twice a week to discuss theme, connections, characterization and the literary elements of their book choices. The table will provide a space for students to meet!
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