My students need quality nonfiction books to challenge them and develop their comprehension skills. They need to prepare themselves for reading comprehension tests.
For many of the kids at my school, books of their own, are often luxuries that they can not afford. They need to experience ownership of all types of books and nonfiction books in particular. Our students are tested three times a year on their reading comprehension skills. They need to be prepared.
My students are resourceful and resilient.
Many of them live well below the poverty line. Some live in shelters. My students are urban and international. Our school is in an industrial side of town, in a city in Connecticut that struggles to fund its school system. About half of my students speak another language at home although only about 20% qualify for English Language Learner services. Our school is large and serves about 1000 students. We pride ourselves in our close knit community that often rallies to support each other during the tough times. Though our school community has faced all manner of hardship and more than our share of tragedy, our students are amazingly talented and resourceful. Our local community is united in their appreciation of and affection for our neighborhood school.
I chose the title of "Is That Really True?" for this project because students in the second grade are still grappling with what is real and what is not "true" in the world. My students will first use the requested nonfiction books in class, where they will be instructed in the art of note taking. Those notes will be transformed into written projects and dioramas. At the end of each separate unit on penguins, dogs, and dinosaurs, the students will take home the book to build their home libraries.
It is crucial that my students have the opportunity to experience nonfiction in a meaningful way as they will see it in the standardized testing that has become ubiquitous in the elementary grades. I believe if my students can experience and hopefully enjoy nonfiction material in a less stressful setting, then they will be more likely to succeed in comprehending and responding to the material in the more formal and stressful situation of taking a standardized test.
These nonfiction books will go a very long way towards helping my students for the many standardized tests that await them in their future.
My hope is that by becoming intimately familiar with quality nonfiction tests at a young age, they will gain interest, and confidence with a genre that many of our students do not have enough exposure to, or experience with. I believe that providing students with ownership of quality books will go a long way towards closing the "Achievement Gap."
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