I work in a public school located in Jersey City, New Jersey and serve students in grades pre-kindergarten through eight. More than half of the student population comes from an economically disadvantaged background. The school was labeled a Focus School by the New Jersey Department of Education. The school has two subgroups with very low performances compared to subgroups in other schools and a large within-school gap between high-performing and lower-performing subgroups.
Despite our disadvantages, we strive to have 90% of our students achieve proficiency on all assessments this year.
We believe that our children can learn in a safe, healthy environment, with developmentally appropriate curriculum, meaningful parental involvement, and high expectations. As a school, we work collaboratively to improve student achievement by promoting literacy across the curriculum, teaching math conceptually, implementing project-based learning, assessing student progress, and utilizing data to plan instruction that is differentiated and engaging for all learners in a culturally responsive classroom. We envision our students as future college graduates and innovative career starters.
This upcoming school year has been the most challenging one of my 18-year career. Budget cuts have affected staffing in my district. As a librarian, I am now a full-time prep period, which means I have a full schedule of mostly middle schoolers. Engaging the K-5 population has been a strength for me. I struggled with the middle school population in the past, but this year I plan to work closely with the middle school ELA department and implement the 40 Book Challenge.
I was inspired by the Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge which invites students to leave their comfort zone and explore different genres.
However, in order to accommodate the hundreds of middle schoolers I have and compete with the world of social media, I am in dire need of high-interest diverse texts such as the ones listed on my list. These books will be such an asset and enable me to kick off the 40 Book Challenge. Please help add to our library.
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