My class is perfectly imperfect. We are a family of 20 students; 10 boys and 10 girls. Perfection? Almost! I wish I could say all my students are on grade level and have secure blissful home lives. Unfortunately this is not true, so during the school day, I strive to create an engaging and relevant educational environment.
Often teachers complain that "these students" are NOT motivated, but I have discovered that "engagement" is the observable trait of motivation.
Finding instructional resources and materials that are relevant and relatable, such as the book titles I have requested, have shown to be of great interest to my class. When students are interested they become engaged. An engaged student is motivated. As you read my project, you will see how my students desire and NOTICE resources and materials that reflect their lives/culture/ethnicity.
This is my second year teaching 3rd grade. The goal of this project is to "balance" my classroom library by adding books that reflect the racial and cultural diverseness of my students/school. The majority of students have limited literature resources in their homes, struggle with food and home security and the majority of the students represent racial minorities. Knowing that my students have had limited exposure to literature outside of school, I vowed to Read Aloud ONE book each school day. This has become the favorite part of the school day for the students and myself.
As I was reading "I Am Enough", by Grace Byers, Kynnedi said, "Hey, that girl on the cover looks like me".
A few weeks later while reading "Jabari Jumps" by Gaia Cornwall, another student commented that the boy on the cover looks like Isaiah. These comments told me that my students were looking for books they could identify with racially/culturally.
With Kynnedi and Isaiah in mind, this project will provide my students and school community with additional books that depict culturally affirming characters and/or provide students with books that are created by authors and illustrators that affirm and reflect their ethnicity.
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