My students are diverse learners, though many of us share the same cultural background. They come from different homes, where they've all experienced different learning opportunities. They are hopeful that I can offer them the chance to learn and grow on a level playing field. These students attend a Title I school on the border between Texas and Mexico, and they have the same dreams and aspirations as students from affluent districts. My students depend on my colleagues and me to help them get to where they want to go. They provide the determination, and the brilliance; I provide the guidance, knowledge, and oftentimes, the tools.
Last year I struggled to help my students to see the fun in reading for the first couple of months of school. I thought I had tried everything. I tried incentives, modeling, dramatic read-aloud lessons, and more. I was stumped, that is, until the work of the genius Mo Willems stole the show in my class. I chose one of the Elephant and Piggie books on a whim, and performed that read aloud like an Oscar winner. Then, in the blink of an eye, my students were hooked. The librarian at my school told me that they were inundated with first graders coming in and demanding more Mo Willems books, but the supply was quickly exhausted.
My students were fighting over these books as if they were made out of gold.
I had never experienced such a profound attitude change, and I was floored by the power of one author's work. Needless to say, I know that we need to add to our collection of Mo Willems's books so that my students can grab them and read them whenever they'd like. I won't have anymore students glumly waiting around until one of their favorites is checked back into the school library. I also have to replace a few of my personal copies that found new loving homes with my students who are preparing to be second graders now. The Pigeon wants an author study. Shall we oblige this time?
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