It has been said that learning travels on language, and there is no denying that language fluency is foundational for ensuring student understanding of any learning objective. With this in mind, it is not surprising that much time has been devoted to the concept of setting up literacy-rich classrooms. This is an important concept at any age level, though we tend to see it more in elementary classrooms. Developing a literacy-rich classroom takes thought and intentionality, but it is not at all difficult to implement. Here are some easy ideas for enriching the literacy in your classroom environment:
- Decorate your walls with content posters and/or infographics: Student literacy is encouraged simply by having something to read when they look at the walls. Posters that link content to pictures or list the steps of a procedure serve to catch students’ eyes and encourage engagement with your subject, even when there is no teaching going on. They can also function as helpful reminders of the learning objectives of the classroom.
- Develop word walls: A word wall is a bank of important or high frequency words relating to a particular topic or principle. While these are often used in lower grades to teach word recognition and reading, in upper grades they can be very effective in learning academic vocabulary. A variation of this is to create and display word clouds using programs such as Wordle or ABCYa. (These tools can be a great starting place for passage analysis.)
- Display student work: There is nothing like seeing your efforts displayed for building self-confidence and motivation. Hanging up samples of exemplary student work both builds motivation and provides opportunity for literacy exposure.
- Give students access to a variety of books, articles, and digital resources related to what you are studying: Even if you have limited classroom space, you can still encourage students to access these resources through library & computer lab visits, providing photo-copies (when appropriate) as well as by talking about them and referencing them in class and on handouts.
- Finally, provide plenty of opportunities for your students to practice reading and writing within your classroom: Think beyond the textbook and written “papers.” Literacy opportunities take many forms, from posters to comic strips, timelines to Powerpoints. The more your students are actively engaging language to learn, the more they are actually learning!
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