On paper, my students are low income and live in high poverty neighborhoods.
Nevertheless, my class is full of potential first-generation college graduates.
They are a thriving group of future leaders. My scholars are thinkers, creators, questioners, builders, observers, and doers. You would be overtaken by their colorful and bubbly personalities. Our classroom is built on community, respect, and a strong work ethic. I teach them with this expectation and they are expected to perform as such. Oh and they do!
You see the cover photo? They one where they are on a blanket working on their iPads? That was their doing. One student brought a blanket from home and wanted to share it as a working space. Students came together and while each had to complete an independent digital assignment, I could overhear them bouncing ideas around and helping each other. On top of that, it includes a mix of all academic levels in my classroom. This is how they will have to function the real world as professionals, and this is how they are working in my class at 8 and 9 years old.
So what makes my students special? The answer is simple - their potential.
We are a dual language classroom in need of some basic Spanish reference books: dictionaries and thesauruses!
When was the last time you read this much excitement for a dictionary and thesaurus?
Probably never! In my four years of teaching, I have asked my school and district to provide us with these materials. We finally got some this year, but we only got 4 Spanish/English dictionaries, which have a different function than single language dictionaries.
In this digital age it is easy to go online to find a definition or synonym in an instant. Nevertheless, it is robbing the students' opportunity to acquire life-long research skills and translating those abilities to use other types of reference materials. Remember, I am working with future college graduates here. Think about all those essays you wrote in college. Think about all the research you did to write them. My students will have to do the same and if I want to be successful at bridging the achievement gap, every little detail helps.
Not only will they learn how to use reference materials, but word study goes hand in hand to help them write exemplary research papers and boost their reading comprehension. Furthermore, it will help them succeed on state assessments because some students can use it as an accommodation. Since we don't have any to provide them on testing days, we are doing them a disservice. Lastly, it is easier for a student to access a paper dictionary/thesaurus outside of school (cheaper to buy or able check out at library) than to acquire access to the internet. They could use these new skills at home for homework, projects, or to look up words they came across in the book they are reading for the remainder of their academic career.
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