Tuesday, September 23, 2008
And the Winner Is...
Lelac Almagor, English 7 Teacher at the KIPP DC: AIM Academy
This entry was chosen as the winner of our Book Blast Give-Away Contest. It was the unanimous choice of our committee and we're extremely happy to be sending our books to contribute to such a fantastic program.
Please read the winning entry below to learn more about this deserving group of kids.
Thanks to everyone who entered and to our I.N.K. committee members for reading all of the entries. Special thanks to Anna M. Lewis and Kathleen Krull for all of their help with the contest.
Happy nonfiction reading everyone!
The winning entry:
1. I confess I had never read the blog before -- but I'm thrilled now that I've found it -- because lots of kids who think they hate reading are actually avid nonfiction lovers. (:
2. Most of our students enter our school reading several years behind grade level. We are committed to doing whatever it takes for them to read passionately and easily, for pleasure, for information, and for power.
For our kids, that means they need to be reading for AT LEAST two hours a day, sometimes more -- individually, with friends, with the whole class, or with a mentor -- in every class, in the hallways, before school, after school, and even during meals. (We have lots of practice cleaning up chocolate milk stains on our books!)
In fifth and sixth grades, our students learn science and history through a special Nonfiction Reading class. Within each unit, they choose topics that interest them and read and research independently to learn more about the world. They have the opportunity to read in much greater depth than the average elementary school student stuck in a class text, and many of them -- especially boys, especially reluctant readers -- prefer their nonfiction "real reading" to any novel during independent reading time.
In seventh and eighth grades, we teach a bit more discipline-specific content -- but the emphasis remains on primary sources, research, and analysis. We believe that reading, say, Susan Bartoletti's book on Hitler Youth, and Anne Frank's diary, and an essay analyzing excerpts from the Nuremberg Laws, plus The Devil's Arithmetic, will leave a student with more-lasting knowledge than any textbook chapter.
Our approach pushes every student to develop real-world thinking skills; it also helps a segment of our students to see themselves as readers even when they aren't fascinated by the typical middle-grades story about a girl who makes a new friend and learns a valuable lesson, or whatever, but would rather read about Malcolm X or great moments in football or how reptiles hunt.
The difficulty, however, is in stocking enough books for our kids. We're on a very limited budget in inner-city Washington, D.C., and for our program to work, we need books about a wide array of topics on every reading level. Your donation would mean the world to our program -- both because of the pleasure of new books and because our children are eager for signs that the larger world is cheering them on, that good things await them in the community of language and literacy.
Thank you so much for reading -- I'm afraid I've gone on a bit! If you'd like to see our kids in action, here they are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW_YU5A8Vz0