As a lower-income, Title I school, many of my students have challenges in and out of the classroom. About 48% of our students are economically disadvantaged. Some of the challenges that present themselves in the classroom are reading proficiency, mastering basic math facts, and simply a lack of motivation to stick with things that are hard. However, it's difficult for some of these children to focus on their education when they are dealing with poverty, homelessness, hunger, absent parents, etc. Despite these challenges, our school has a great sense of community and pride among the staff and students. Together we are the Tigers and mighty proud of it!
My 4th grade students, while coming from various economic backgrounds, cultures, and family structures have something in common - they are all capable of amazing things!
They don't always believe this themselves, but they truly are. I love to see one of my "lower" students blow the class away with a really great idea or connection that no one else thought of. I like to see the underdog get a win. Life can be hard. I want to see all of my students get some wins!
Did you know that 68% of 4th grade students in our country do not read at a proficient level? Research shows that students who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are less likely to graduate from high school. I strive to encourage ALL of my students to read, but specifically my lower level reading students. The Scholastic Branches series chapter books will help me do this!
All students need access to books at their reading level.
There are many factors that contribute to this achievement gap that are out of a teacher's control. However, there is one thing that, as a teacher, I can control and that is to encourage and guide students to read quality literature at their level. A great way to accomplish this goal is through providing access to chapter books that my lower students can actually read. I have many students that are not reading at a 4th grade level and cannot read many of the chapter books that I have in my classroom library. Or they feel that the books I have at their level are too “babyish” and they should be reading what other students are reading. These students desperately need to feel successful when reading a book. They are also the ones that need to be encouraged to read the most. If I can get the right books in their hands, I might be able to make a difference to that astonishing reading gap.
You might be thinking, "How will this help the 68% of 4th graders read more proficiently?" Well, simply put, research shows time and time again that the single best way to become a better reader is to read. If we read more, we will stay sharp!
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