Caring Donors Give Students in Chicago a Novel they Can Relate to - a project supported by the Student Research Foundation

Caring Donors Give Students in Chicago a Novel they Can Relate to

“I teach mainly high school freshmen in an urban inner-city environment on the South Side of Chicago,” writes Mr. Lothspeich, a 9th-grade teacher at Chicago Vocational Career Academy,in
Chicago, IL who is committed to his students. “Despite their daily struggles outside of school, my students are funny, hard-working, and intuitive kids. In my class, the students often write about their life experiences, using both their struggles and triumphs to weave together a classroom narrative of life on the South Side. The work that we do in my classroom is expressive and introspective, encouraging students to explore their identities and reflect on what makes them who they are, both as individuals and a class.”

That explains why Mr. Lothspeich was so excited when he discovered The Hate U Give, a novel by Angie Thomas.

“This novel speaks on the struggle of African American teenagers and some of the hardships they face,” he explains. “It can open my students’ eyes to the impact that they can have in a community that many of them feel has abandoned them.”

Faced with a tight budget, he decided to post a request for copies of the book on DonorsChoose.com. And now, thanks to donations from a concerned group of contributors that include The Student Research Foundation, 60 students have received copies of the book to read.

Caring Donors Give Students in Chicago a Novel they Can Relate to - a project partially funded by the Student Research Foundation

Thanks from Mr. Lothspeich

Dear Student Research Foundation,

Thank you so much for supporting our classroom with “The Hate U Give!” The book taught my students many valuable skills and lessons, including: analysis of theme & symbolism, understanding of understatement, hyperbole, sarcasm, and irony, and confidence! Many of my students have never read a book this long before, and watching their confidence grow as readers throughout the book was incredible! I wholeheartedly believe that my students would not have read a book of this length if they did not see themselves in it. Giving my students a text that they could relate to made so much of a difference in their comprehension and active engagement with the book, and I cannot thank all of you enough for giving us that opportunity.

Reading in my classroom comes in a variety of forms. Every day we are doing different activities with the book, such as pairing up for discussions, having whole-class read-alouds, and following along to the audiobook. By varying the types of reading we are doing, I am better able to engage the students and hold their attention for longer periods of time, as was necessary with “The Hate U Give” due to its length (over 400 pages!). At many points in the novel, I also paired the text with the movie that came out last year. In doing so, we discussed the artistic license of a movie adaptation, comparing and contrasting many of the differences that arise in the movie and having conversations about the director’s reasons for doing so.

In particular, I had a few students who LOVED the novel. First, Latasha, who wants to be a middle school teacher, realized the importance of having a text that relates to students in a classroom. Throughout the novel, I could see the cogs turning in her brain as she thought about the implications that an accessible text brings to a classroom in both her personal experience and future aspirations. Second, Antonio, a student who I had trouble reaching last semester, became very engaged in the text. His attendance went from poor to stellar as he came to class to engage with the text almost every day — and his grade followed suit!

Thank you all so much for the opportunity that you gave to my students and myself. You have helped us all grow as learners and humans.

With gratitude,
Mr. Lothspeich

We look forward to writing about additional DonorsChoose.org teacher projects here on the Student Research Foundation blog. Stay tuned!

We invite all students to explore their career options by participating in our career and college studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities which match their interests.

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