"The library is our favorite place to visit each week!" These words, spoken by a kindergarten teacher, made my heart burst! I am so lucky to be the librarian a Boston Public School located in the neighborhood of Dorchester. Our school serves grades K0 - 8 and is home to nearly 1000 students, ages 3 to 15. In addition to our regular education classes, we have inclusion classrooms, Multi-Disability classrooms, English as a Second Language classrooms, classrooms specifically for students who have experienced trauma, and advanced work classrooms.
Our school's strength lies in its diversity, and the library must meet the needs of all learners.
Our students and families represent a diverse mixture of cultures, ranging from Vietnamese, Irish-American, Dominican, Haitian and more. Many of our students are recent immigrants, and many are bilingual. While some of our students come from working class families, others are homeless and living in shelters. The library is a place where all of these students come to learn throughout the week, and it is imperative that we continue to grow our collection and resources to meet the needs of such a diverse student population.
I work at a K-8 school with a very diverse population. In addition to regular education and advanced work classes, we have students with severe special needs, students with trauma, and inclusions classes. Currently, I have very little adaptive tools for my students with severe special needs. Many of these students have substantial cognitive and physical disabilities, can not speak or see, and are often in wheel chairs or walkers. These students visit the library every week and I share stories with them, using props for students to touch and feel. However, because so many of them have limited use of their bodies and ability to speak, it is difficult for them to participate in lessons or even voice their opinion or needs. With a tablet, I can use several apps that will support these very special needs. For example, there are many apps that creates visual vocabulary to give a voice to students. Very basic needs or feelings all the way to complex sentences can be created. Sound effects can be added to books shared to enhance the experience for my students who are vision impaired. In addition, many of these students love music. With a tablet, I will better be able to integrate music into each lesson. I will be able to share sing-along books with students and online digital books, of which there are so many options but I currently have no way to share them with individual students.
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