Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bridging the Gap

Chapter 21: “Scaffolding Vocabulary Learning - Ideas for Equity in Urban Settings”, from the text: Teaching All the Children: Strategies for Developing Literacy in an Urban Setting (written Judith A. Scott, and edited by Diane Lapp) was taken from my course-pack. I am so glad this article/chapter was assigned reading. I just finished reading and responding to the chapter concerning vocabulary form Gail E. Tompkins’ textbook and I have to say, I’m very disappointed in Gail. I’m not sure why she felt it was okay to leave out such pertinent information; that children whom are “economically or culturally outside of the mainstream…are being underserved, underfunded” (p. 471-472) and left out to dry, in terms of vocabulary learning.

It’s such a strange (yet being a teacher… familiar feeling) to go from feeling so excited about teaching one moment, to being completely deflated and saddened the next. There’s such a huge job ahead of us. As I said before, it is SO important to provide our students with as many opportunities as possible to read in school. After reading this article, I am reminded that there are students who may come to my classroom, and the reading they do with me could be the only experiences they have with books, with reading, and with writing ever. It breaks my heart. And I’m ashamed that this isn’t a constant thought in my head. I just can’t imagine a life like that. I can be as empathetic as possible for my students, but no matter how aware and educated I am, I will never have some of the experiences that they are having.

But, hopefully, because I am aware, and because I CARE, I believe that I can serve a thoroughly beneficial role in their lives. They (i.e., minority students, students from economically disadvantaged areas, students whose families are on welfare, etc.) need REPETITION, in regards to vocabulary usage; they need to be held to expectations that require them to push themselves. They have a huge gap to cross. According to the reading…“By grade seven, they were more than 2 years behind the norms [in regards to economically disadvantaged students defining literary words]” (p. 459). Since these children are not receiving the help, support, and advocacy from home, they need their teachers to do that.

These children need to understand the important of words and they need to realize that they are capable of developing a vocabulary that enables them to succeed academically. Words are tools for success and every single child should have access to those tools.

1 comment:

  1. I think its great that you mentioned the importance of setting high expectations for our students who are in economically disadvantaged settings. So many times, teachers do not set high enough expectations for these students because they look at them as not being capable of crossing that gap and succeeding. It is really sad that some teachers believe their students in these low income areas, are not as capable, because without the faith and high expectations that are set by teachers, they will have a difficult time believing in themselves and having motivation to do well. Hopefully we will be able to make a difference if we are ever working with these children by keeping an open mind to instructional techniques and high expectations to challenge their understandings and developments.