From the moment our students enter our classroom we want them to be immersed in a print-rich environment that promotes literacy learning. We want them to be surrounded by wonderful books, writing, and writing supplies that make them want to be readers and writers. This is not an all-inclusive list but is what quickly comes to my mind when I picture a print-rich environment.
An engaging classroom library should be the focal point of our classroom. Our books can be organized by:
- recent read alouds and shared reading books
- books students have created independently or as a class
When considering how many books to have in our classroom library Scholastic suggests at least 20 books per student. Book Source Banter Blog includes more suggestions on how many books should be in a classroom library according to various literacy experts.
Displaying different collections of books in various places in our classroom can attract students to books on a variety of topics. For example, we can set up math books near our math supplies and put science books about our current topic of study prominently on display.
Browsing baskets contain leveled texts that the students have either read before or books that we know the students can read independently. These book bins are housed outside of the classroom library and can be used as a literacy center that students visit while the teacher conducts guided reading groups. Fountas and Pinnell recommend that the teacher tells each guided reading group that they will find “good choices” for them in a particular color basket (no names or levels needed on the baskets).
Writing displayed around the room
Over the past 5-6 years, I have noticed a decrease in the amount of print displayed around the classroom. I love technology, but I can’t help but wonder if this decrease might have something to do with Smart Boards and other similar types of technology. I rarely even see chart paper in classrooms anymore.
We want the writing we have created, with our students, through shared and interactive writing to be displayed on our walls. Students enjoy rereading the writing that they have helped to create. Students feel ownership over this authentic and purposeful writing and because they have read it several times, in the creation of it, the writing is more memorable to them.
Other types of writing we might consider including in our classroom (many created through shared or interactive writing):
- labels around the room
- focus walls:
- math vocabulary
- science vocabulary
- family names
- alphabet linking chart
- blends linking chart
- word wall
- Students’ independent writing pieces
- Name chart and students’ names everywhere (especially in primary grades)
- Morning Message
We want a writing area that holds the classroom’s writing supplies. This writing area can also be used by students during their literacy center time. Some items you might want to include in your writing area are:
- a variety of paper
- various colors
- a variety of writing utensils
- fancy pencils
- stapled books
- blank cards
When we make creating a print-rich environment a priority in our classrooms we will find our students becoming readers and writer before our very eyes. When our students find themselves surrounded by opportunities to read and write they will read and write at unexpected times.
We might notice students reading the walls during recess time, while standing in line waiting to go to art or even when they are waiting for the bus at the end of the day. We might have a student arrive at school and excitedly ask to use the writing supplies to make a card for their mom’s birthday. We might see students choose to visit the writing center during recess to write a note to a friend or rush over to the new turtle books near your science display.
When we notice these things we will know that we have created a literacy-rich classroom environment that has positively impacted our students’ perceptions about reading and writing.