This year, I have switched grade levels and am teaching first grade! I feel very fortunate to be working with my 25 energetic first graders and am excited to see what this year has in store for their growth. I work at an inner-city school where the majority of our students receive free or reduced price lunch. We have a very high ELL (English Language Learners) and special education population.
Many of our students have an inconsistent home life and just having them come to school on a regular basis is reason for us to celebrate.
Before we worry about curriculum, we try to make sure that their basic needs are met. Despite their difficulties outside of school, the majority of my students come to school eager to learn. Our school is always trying to provide a warm community for our students to grow as individuals. I am always greeted by smiling faces and big hugs, especially after a weekend. I believe it is our duty to provide our students with the best learning opportunities and materials. Unfortunately, our school budget doesn't always allow for that.
These materials will make a difference in my students' learning because these books are centered around their interests. My first graders are very curious about the world around them, especially animals and pumpkins, and as we have begun to discuss more about science and life cycles, like apples and pumpkins, my students are finding themselves more in the nonfiction section of our classroom library. Due to my grade switch, however, most of my students can only enjoy the illustrations of these books and cannot read them independently.
My students are at the point in the year where they are comfortable with their reading routines and are beginning to love reading independently, these nonfiction books will help them grow towards their individual goals and will be books that grow with them through the year.
Having new nonfiction books will empower my students to take on new vocabulary as they learn some new facts about some of their favorite creatures, and may also find new facts about a new creature! They will also be able to independently investigate with these books topics that we may cover as a class, such as habitats and life cycles. In our next writing unit, they will also be able to use these books as mentor texts as they write about nonfiction topics they are experts in.
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