The middle school students I serve in my diverse learning classroom are an energetic, curious, and incredibly hard-working bunch! Our classroom is tucked away in the corner of the top floor of a 4th-8th grade building. It's part of a neighborhood public school on the south side of Chicago. If you were to walk into our classroom on any given day, you would see brightly colored anchor charts, students spread out across the room at desks and on the floor, working independently and in collaborative groups. You would hear a cacophony of laughter and kind words from students helping one another as they work.
My students commit themselves to learning and becoming stronger readers each day, but it can be discouraging reading at a kindergarten level when you're in the 8th grade.
The texts available to my students at their independent reading level are picture books intended for much younger students. My students are excited by books with characters their own age that face similar problems to them; however, there are very few books that meet this criteria at my students' ability levels. Each of my students has the potential to experience great success with reading with appropriate resources!
Unfortunately, in our classroom, reading is generally viewed as boring and embarrassing; the picture books in our classroom at the students' reading levels are too juvenile for middle school kids. I can't wait for my students to have access to books that will build their engagement, independence, success with reading. I can already hear the excitement in their voices, sharing about their connections to the experiences of the characters they read about.
These books have the potential to transform the way my students view reading entirely and even the way they view themselves.
Increased confidence in independent reading will not only build my students' belief in their abilities to grow as readers, but it will greatly improve their self-esteem. My students deserve the opportunity to have success with reading and to explore and learn through the pages of books.
After our main lesson, students have the ability to choose a station to work at for the remainder of class. I can count on one hand the number of times students have chosen independent reading in our classroom library all year; I am eager to see that change with the addition of independent reading books with characters of appropriate ages and interesting experiences for my students to relate to.
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