Implementing the envisionment-building process in the classroom
requires teachers to develop "new bones" or ways of planning
for and interacting with students to draw out their understanding,
ways to connect students to each other, and ways to guide students
back to the text, or to question their own readings. By reshaping
their approach to literature instruction, as well as rethinking
how classroom meetings are utilized, teachers can create a true
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students' responses and questions are the focal points for learning,
discussion, and exploration. By fostering the growth of a literary
community, teachers serve as expert readers and facilitators,
moving the process along with layers of questioning, while at
the same time connecting students' ideas, as well as challenging
them. Equally important in the process is the ability for students
to recognize that their input is invaluable and that their unique
perspectives are not only welcome, but also critical in moving
the class thinking and learning along.
Envisionment-building classrooms invite students to share their
multiple perspectives, stressing that diversity is a strength.
Students are engaged in discussions where multiple vantage points
are explored for the sake of building a rich understanding for
each student. This learning environment creates the expectation
that students are to challenge one another, as well as challenge
their own ideas.
While not all envisionment-building classrooms have to look
and feel the same, they are guided by some basic principles
(from Judith Langer's Envisioning Literature):
Principles of Practice:
The teacher's role in an envisionment-building classroom is
- Students are treated as life-long envisionment builders.
- Questions are treated as part of the literary experience.
- Class meetings are a time to develop understandings.
- Multiple perspectives are used to enrich interpretation.
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- Serve as an expert reader, guide, resource and facilitator,
bringing about complex discussion and questioning and lending
the expertise of an experienced reader.
- Provoke students to think, write, and talk about their
ideas, their responses, questions, and their understandings
of the text itself, and to listen to others' ideas and leave
room for exploring other possibilities.
- Validate as well as challenge students' responses and
- Pose complex questions to lead readers towards their own
understanding of the text.
- Introduce texts that are accessible for students and in
a way that speaks to their interests and life experiences.
- Assist students in making real-world connections between
the literature and their own lives.
- Create a classroom community where questions and responses
from all students are valued as part of the learning process.
- Encourage and facilitate participation from all community
- Approach discussion without being married to previous
understandings of the text.
- Provide a variety of multi-text readings, which allows
students to compare and contrast literature experiences
in order to build complex understandings.