The literacy-rich environment emphasizes the importance of speaking, reading, and writing in the learning of all students. Reading is a fundamental skill that defines creating environments for learning pdf academic successor failure of students. Once students reach fourth grade, most of the information they need is given to them in textual format where the focus changes from learning to read, to reading to learn.
Language acquisition and literacy experiences begin at birth. Students lacking previous experiences with skills such as print awareness, alphabetic principle, and phonemic awareness need supplementary instruction to ensure they do not lag behind their peers. Therefore, elementary school teachers must provide an environment that allows students with disabilities to have access to experiences they may have missed in their preschool years. A literacy-rich environment is a setting that stimulates students with disabilities to participate in language and literacy activities in their daily lives thereby giving them the beginning understandings of the utility and function of oral and written language. This information brief describes the various elements of a literacy rich environment in an elementary school classroom that provide students in special education access to the general education curriculum. It provides elementary school teachers with information on why a literacy-rich environment is important and how to establish one.
Lists of additional resources are also included to enhance the readers’ ability to implement literacy-rich environments. Please note that while this information brief specifically discusses the needs of students with disabilities, particularly those affecting literacy acquisition, the strategies discussed are effective for all children in elementary settings. Imagine walking into an early elementary school classroom and seeing all students immersed in literacy experiences. Children are engaged in a variety of reading and writing activities while some students are working in groups and others working individually. Students explore books of various genres not just in the library or during reading times, but also in science, math, and social studies.
During science, students explore the science literature such as eyewitness books to gain greater knowledge about concepts. Students interact with books on CD-Rom and listen to books on tape. Materials in the classroom are adapted not only to help students with challenges interact with text, but also to serve as a motivator for reading. Students write books and reports in all of the content areas, as well as writing in student journals and notebooks. When needing a resource for more information, students use books, computers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and word walls, as well as teachers and peers for assistance. The classroom has labels with words and pictures everywhere so that students constantly connect written language with the things they represent.
Students use calendars, schedules, signs, and directions to see how words can be used everyday. Teachers and students reconstruct the classroom to represent a book or a theme that the class has studied with written materials so that students can live in the lesson. All materials are adapted to meet the needs of children with disabilities. For example, Braille and textured materials may be used in labels, signs, and other displays for children with visual impairments. Teachers engage in language and literacy activities in all elements of instruction.
Conversations abound in which teachers elicit language from students and ask them to transcribe that language. For example, a teacher conducting a science lesson may request hypotheses, observations, and conclusions from students in an oral and written form. Teachers also facilitate language and literacy exploration with games and activities that students can use one-to-one, independently, or with peers. Finally, teachers demonstrate their own participation in language and literacy through modeling its use continually throughout the day. Teachers can demonstrate writing on the board by recording what children share in class discussions.
From the atmosphere and decor of the room to interactions with peers and teachers, every element of the classroom is designed to allow students with disabilities explore the elements of literacy. The literacy rich environment emphasizes the importance of speaking, reading, and writing in the learning of all students. Because literacy-rich environments can be individualized to meet student’s needs, teachers are able to create both independent and directed activities to enhance understanding of concept of print and word, linguistic and phonemic awareness, and vocabulary development. All of this occurs in a concrete setting giving students with disabilities multiple opportunities to gain the skills necessary to participate in the general education curriculum.
For example, books, technology, manipulative materials, art projects, and explorative activities can be used around a central theme. Fassler’s second grade class is studying weather. The intentional selection and use of materials is central to the development of the literacy-rich environment. Teachers ensure that students have access to a variety of resources by providing many choices.
Teaching staff connect literacy to all elements of classroom life. For example, teachers should include both fiction and nonfiction literature. Taking dictation for students not yet fluent in writing allows students to see how oral language is translated into written language. Written words let students see what they say. Therefore, writing makes thoughts visible.