Students in AIS ELA are those who struggle with reading and/or writing. Of the approximate 700 students in our middle school, I am able to service about 50 students. In a smaller setting, students work to address their specific reading and writing needs both within a reading group and while reading independently.
Many of my students come from lower-middle-class families and are reluctant readers.
Often times, students have concerns at home that affect their behavior and performance in school. Also, access to books outside of school - especially during the summer months - is almost non-existent. Therefore, my classroom is a place that fosters an enjoyment of reading while creating a safe environment where students can be themselves. Most thrive in a smaller class in which they can receive the attention they need to push them toward being successful in the ELA classroom.
The books included in this project will not only allow students opportunities to discuss social justice but also reinforce the themes they explore in ELA class through whole group novel studies. Many deal with issues such as feminism, racism and the refugee experience. My AIS ELA classes have been using restorative justice circles to discuss these topics in an understanding and nonjudgemental environment. We are practicing our reading and writing skills while taking a look at equity, equality and justice.
Several of the books on this list will give students an additional means to understand themes they learn about in ELA class.
I plan to use Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott and The Unwanted by Don Brown to further explore the WW2 unit 8th graders study in both ELA and Social Studies. The former is poetry that gives students insight into a Jewish refugee's life in a concentration camp while the latter focuses on the stories of Syrian refugees in today's world. Because students in AIS ELA often need extra resources to fully understand the curriculum, these books will really help them succeed in the ELA classroom.
In addition, students have shown interest in further discussing discrimination on the basis of race, gender and sexuality. Odd One Out by Nic Stone and Tradition by Brendan Kiely will allow them the medium to further understand these topics. Furthermore, many students loved reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and are anxious to read her new novel On the Come Up. Students have misconceptions and questions about social justice and they want to explore these topics. Please donate to this project to allow them this opportunity!
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