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What Matters the Most through Reading and Writing

Author: Christine Lokey


Samuel H. Daroff School

Year: 2007

Seminar: 20th Century American Literature

Grade Level: K-8

Keywords: direct reading, inspire to act, integrating, Literature, racial justice, Reading, scaffolding, social justice, writing, writing instruction

School Subject(s): English, Literature, Writing

As a reading teacher with several decades experience, I have developed a passion for creating opportunities for all students to take pleasure in becoming better readers. It is important that I create a literature rich environment that reflects student’s culture and various ethnic, racial, and cultural groups. Daroff is a large public K-8 elementary school located in West Philadelphia. The student population is just over nine hundred. Although this is an elementary school, many of our seventh and eighth grade students are high school age appropriate before they reach eighth grade. Ninety percent of our students get free or reduced lunch. Many of our students come from low-income families. Our students live and travel to and from school in a very depressed area of West Philadelphia were there is a high violent crime rate. The school is predominately African American. I service students and may provide some professional development for teachers. I support reading instruction one period a day as well as, teaching intensive reading to small groups, one on one, and facilitating Read 180 intensive instruction program to forty of our fifth and seventh grade students.

My first year at Daroff I taught a seventh grade self-contained class. My students arrived to class with various reading and writing skills that ranged from barely literate to highly proficient. Twenty five percent of the class was already sixteen and by the end of the school year, many of my students were either sixteen or seventeen. I noticed that students were used to completing work sheet activities and not expecting interaction with the teacher. I spent an entire year working on strategies that would get my students to use higher order thinking skills that required them to contribute to the learning experience.

This new challenge was not the wide range of learning needs but capturing our students’ interest as well as improving school performance and facilitating authentic instruction, so students feel connected.

In this curriculum unit on What Matters the Most through Reading and Writing, students will read works of literature, and learn something of the social context from which these works come and are valued. They buy into and learn to take responsibility for their education, utilizing reading and writing in a variety of genres. Students learn how to use reading and writing as a vehicle to bring about social change.

Download Unit: 07.05.07.pdf

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