I am a high school teacher in Salt Lake City. I serve about 200 students in my English Language Arts classroom. I teach 9th grade, 11th grade, and English as a Second Language throughout the week; as any seasoned teacher knows, this kind of range when it comes to age of students, ability and engagement level requires a high amount of differentiation.
On top of the sheer number of students, I also have a beautifully diverse bunch of kids---ethnically, racially, and socioeconomically.
The majority of my students come from low-income, immigrant (or refugee) families and find the bulk of their resources at school. It is my hope to reach each and every student through student choice Independent reading as well as the writer's workshop outlined by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle.
Every day, my students have time to read their chosen novel and are then prompted to write. On top of this, the students hold their own book clubs and discuss important topics that reflect the world beyond our classroom. Let's get good books in the hands of these kids!
Teachers have the great responsibility and joy of being the advocates for our students. Not only does this mean advocating for their well-being in the world and classrooms, but it also means showing our students that we care about and celebrate their cultures, race, ethnicities, and family histories. As a language arts teacher, I believe one of the most effective, impactful ways by which educators can do this is through fostering a love for reading. My project would help my students to find this celebration of themselves on my classroom library shelves.
Too often, students find only white, male authors on the shelves of their classrooms; what this communicates to minority students is that they are not represented in literature and so literacy is not a skill meant for them.
By providing them with this representation, my students can take back literacy. Literacy is the key to self-advocacy and higher order thinking...I want to give them that key.
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