More than three‑quarters of students from low‑income households
$0 still needed
Raising Pets to Raise Literacy
My students need living organisms, like butterflies, frogs and a Venus Flytrap, and the necessary equipment to care for them, and books to increase their literacy as they read about the plants and animals.
Have you ever seen a child as they watch a Venus Flytrap snap close on an insect or as they follow a leopard gecko hunt his prey? The excitement and enchantment they feel provides a spark and desire to learn, read, and experience more. I want to use those moments to help me teach.
My students attend an inner-city elementary school that has become a staple of the surrounding Hispanic community.
All students come from poverty with limited resources at home. The school is a safe haven that provides more opportunities than what is currently available to them. About 90% of the students are English Language Learners and speak Spanish with their families. This simply means their academic school language is far behind their English speaking peers when they enter school. Since I am an English language specialist, I work only with those students who require additional help to be on grade level. The school itself is going through many changes. Due to low test scores, another agency has come in to flip our school in hopes to raise the achievement gap. We are using proven, yet innovative, strategies to help the children who have been left behind. Despite their circumstances, I know they all can achieve!
My main goal will be to provide three literacy based thematic units throughout the school year. A unit on frogs/toads, on the life cycle of a butterfly, and on carnivorous plants. Students will discover new concepts as they watch and experience these living organisms. This builds background knowledge and language the children so desperately need. Due to poverty, children lack fundamental experiences and vocabulary they need to understand the world around them and information they read in books.
Research says children should be reading according to their interests. When there is a tadpole right in front of students, of course they are eager to read more about them. We will read, write, and discuss the pets in class and I will encourage self-selected reading outside of class on the topic. Children are reading, learning scientific content, and learning responsibility as they help care for our classroom pets.
These kids deserve more than what they were dealt in life.
They deserve the chance to escape their home life and be a curious child. They deserve meaningful opportunities to read about interesting topics, and they deserve the chance to love school and be motivated to learn. The unique opportunity to bring pets and plants into the classroom truly excites students to discuss, read, and write about the organisms. This will help the children receive the education they deserve.
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