DeWitt Clinton Elementary School
Location: Chicago, Illinois
No. of Students in School: 1,600
Teacher: Dorothy Franklin
No. of Years Teaching: 16 Years
Subject: Language arts
No. of Students in the Classroom: 30
DeWitt Clinton Elementary is an urban K-8 school in Chicago, Illinois, that serves a primarily first-generation immigrant population speaking more than 17 different languages. The majority of students are Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Russian, or Bosnian, with a small minority of other nationalities and ethnicities. Many of Clinton's children require ESOL or bilingual assistance. Approximately 50 percent are below grade level in core subjects, and 85 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. In the tradition of a neighborhood school, all of the approximately 1600 students live within walking distance of school grounds. Clinton experiences a high rate of transience as families move into and out of the surrounding areas.
size at Clinton hovers around 28 to 30 children of all abilities.
In Dorothy Franklin's double-blocked language arts classes,
the average reading level is fifth grade, with some students
as low as third and others as high as ninth. Ms. Franklin
also has students in various stages of the bilingual program.
Teachers meet in grade level teams to discuss the status and
well-being of individual students. Language arts teachers
for grades five to eight also hold weekly meetings to discuss
issues of curriculum.
does not mandate texts that schools must teach, only skills
and concepts that they should address. Some schools have created
a list of approved texts, but teachers at Clinton have free
rein in selecting their material. Ms. Franklin has chosen
to use novels and self-selected reading materials.
Torn between the order of a traditional classroom and the excitement of collaborative learning, she struggles to strike a suitable balance in her own room. Students usually sit in rows, with desks grouped in twos or threes to facilitate discussions. At times, however, they arrange their seats in a large circle so they can participate in a whole-class dialogue.