Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teaching Reading K-2 Workshop.

Creating a Literate Community: Examine the Topic

Examine the Topic

Extend Your Knowledge

In this section, you will expand your understanding of a literate classroom community by comparing the ideas from the workshop video with passages from various publications. Read and respond to the ideas presented as they relate to your own teaching practices.

Primary reading teachers have two challenges: designing a classroom environment that displays print purposefully and creating specific routines for using the environment to develop literacy skills. Read the following statement from Dr. Paratore and the passage from Organizing and Managing a Language Arts Block by Leslie Mandel Morrow. Consider how these ideas relate to how you establish literacy routines in the classroom.

The routines teachers set up on the first day, the second day, the third day of school are important in the achievement children show in June.

Jeanne R. Paratore

Effective management begins with the physical design of the classrooms, which includes an environment rich with accessible materials. Early in the school year the children are introduced to the design of the classroom and how the different materials and areas are used.

From the first day of school, the teacher helps children become independent learners, so that they can think for themselves. Early in the school year, time is used to teach routines that include whole-class instruction, the use of learning centers, self-directed independent work, cooperative work, and behaviors in need-based groups. Children learn the protocols for sitting on the rug during lessons and how to take turns. Rules are discussed and created by the class, so that children feel some responsibility to follow them. Children learn these rules and routines so that they can function much of the time without the teacher. Teachers are consistent in their routines and the enforcement of rules.

One of the more difficult times to manage during the school day is when children work in centers while teachers meet with small groups for direct instruction. Students need to master the system for using the centers.... For instance, they need to know the number of children who can be at a center at one time and how many center activities need to be completed in a given day. Children have to account for work accomplished at centers as well. When the children become self-regulated learners, teachers can devote attention to working with small groups.

Morrow, L. M. "Organizing and Managing a Language Arts Block." In Strickland, D. S., and L. M. Morrow, eds. Beginning Reading and Writing, 83-98. New York, N.Y.: Teachers College Press, 2000. *

Consider these questions:

  • In what ways can classroom routines promote reading achievement?
  • What are the responsibilities of the teacher and the students in establishing and using classroom routines?

Sometimes the poorest readers have the least experience with literacy, the least access to print materials, and may not have a well-established sense of purpose for why school-like literacy is important or functional. We often assume children move from one literate environment (home) to another (school). This is not the case for all students, so creating a literate community for those students may involve more deliberate steps than would otherwise be the case.

Robert Rueda, University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education

* Used with permission of Teacher's College Press. Permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center.

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