My students need a community rug and books to listen to and read together for the start of the new school year.
Imagine walking into a classroom filled with children who do not know the smell of a new book or the softness of clean carpet. My students are used to hand me downs and they are unmotivated when asked to sit on the dirty tile and read torn books. I want them to know that people care about them.
Never have I worked with students overcome by so many obstacles and challenges.
So many students are below level when I get them and they are already discouraged by school. They feel like the system has failed them and in many ways it has. The happiest I have seen them during academic work is when we are reading novels. They LIVE for listening to stories about other kids living similar lives. It encourages them, motivates them. In the average class, students have such a desire to be connected to something. Students get that connection in our classroom. They connect with one another, with the stories we read, the discussions we think through, and the mutual respect that comes from understanding each others' struggles.
Students come from many different places. It is important for us to have a common ground where we sit together to discuss classroom issues, as well as introduce new concepts. There is something about sitting on a rug with friends that brings you closer than sitting in a desk separated from everyone else. My students need a place they can be together just as much as they need their individual desks.
A community rug can help us meet together for morning meetings and read alouds from books. It also provides a place for students to participate in independent and buddy reading. I've also asked for three sets of audio cds and books. Because many parents work several jobs, they rarely have time to read with their child at home. That means that students are not hearing a fluent reader often enough! The books and cds will provide an outlet for students to escape to, while also boosting their listening comprehension of text, vocabulary, and (hopefully) joy of reading!
Nothing brings a class together more than having a comfy place to sit and sharing new, exciting books.
My students NEED a place that they can come to, knowing that the expectation is for them to listen to a story and enjoy it. Leaving the fear of reading behind, students can truly enjoy and connect to literature. What better way to meet the needs of these kids than providing them with books they can relate to and a rug that welcomes all?
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