Because our school is an open access gifted and talented (GATE) magnet elementary school, our students are from within and outside the neighborhood and represent a diverse group in both ethnicity and ability. The neighborhood is one of the oldest barrios in our city and several generations of families have attended our school.
We are a Title 1 School, with a large percentage of families falling below the poverty line, but we have strong, inter-generational family support and involvement.
As a GATE school, we try to provide many opportunities for students to work independently on projects that appeal to their ability and interest levels, but this often requires materials that are not included in the school budget. We believe our students deserve the best that public education has to offer and are willing to do what it takes to provide it.
First graders do a LOT of writing and go through writing utensils quickly! In our class, we do much of our thinking by drawing and writing on dry erase boards, We also use colored felt tip pens to grade our own work. And we often have to erase, leaving pencil erasers flat before the pencils wear out, so the pencil top erasers help make them last longer. Fine black felt tip markers and black sharpies are great for writing final drafts and outlining drawings. Because I often buy these materials with my own money, students learn quickly how to take care of them so they last a long time, but unfortunately, they don't last forever and need replacement a few times a year.
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