My students are community-focused, engaged, and enthusiastic. This year, I have a hilarious group of sixth graders who make me laugh every single day. They face many challenges growing up in a small city at the southern tip of the Mississippi Delta. Here, family roots run deep but so do the effects of systemic and historic poverty. The kids are faced daily with struggles most teachers can't imagine. Still, they come to school ready to learn. They are fascinated by technology and science and love to learn through role playing and active lessons.
Community is important in the South and my students want to make a difference in their school, neighborhoods, and city.
They love to see how their lessons connect to the world around them--to see the impact of their learning and their projects.
The main issue for my students is reading. Many of them are reading below grade level and struggle with basic vocabulary. They are amazing, though! When we define the vocabulary and talk through any given text, their abilities really shine through. They have the skills. I see this a lot in Vicksburg schools--extremely bright, creative kids who simply need more practice with certain skills.
I firmly believe that we should assess student learning as authentically as possible. Sure, there's a time and place for testing but in the classroom I want to see what my students can DO not how well they can test. For that reason, students must complete a portfolio or work in my class and we need a way to keep all that work organized.
The students learn through authentic tasks like researching and presenting ideas to help our community, beautify our school, or achieve their career dreams.
Needless to say, it helps if each student has a place to store all that work!
I am also trying to slowly expand the seating options in my classroom to give students more choice. This "project" funds two chairs for students to sit and read or work independently.
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