Elements of a Literacy-Rich 21st Century Classroom

Element 4: Access to Materials

Classroom materials should be easily accessible to students.

Rather than storing math manipulatives or dry erase boards in hard-to-reach cabinets, put them where students can reach them.

If you have decided to use tables rather than desks, you will also need to have an area for student supplies (pencils, markers, crayons, paper, scissors, glue, and so on). I prefer having community supplies instead of independent pencil boxes, but you need to decide what will work best for you. My students each have a book bin where they keep their reading books and a binder.

Organization of materials is a personal preference and will depend on the size of your classroom, and its storage options.

Element 5: Technology

Make technology available to students!

Students should have access to class computers, laptops, iPads, and/or Chrome books. Students are accustomed to using devices starting at a very early age and having information right at their fingertips.

The usefulness of technology and ways to incorporate it into your classroom could take up a blog post (or several posts) in itself. In short, technological devices support instruction, digital literacy, and are a vehicle for students to research their interests.

Of course, it is important to set up monitoring systems and strict guidelines that will keep your students safe (these guidelines will depend on your district policies).

Element 6: Literacy-Rich Environment

A literacy-rich classroom gives students access not only to digital literacy, but also to library that includes a wide variety of books at various levels and incorporates many genres.

A classroom library should be organized so students are able to use it independently. Books are kept in leveled bins/baskets with only one level in each basket. It is important to have books at EVERY student’s reading level. I like to organize my non-leveled books by genre, theme, featured author, and mentor texts. All bookshelves should be at a kid-friendly height and the area should be inviting.

A literacy-rich classroom also means there are “anchor charts” hanging around the classroom for students to reference. An “anchor chart” includes strategies or information pertinent to what the children are studying. Often, this chart is made ahead of time and added to during a mini-lesson. There can be multiple “anchor charts” hanging in a classroom for students to use as a guide.

A 21st century classroom is not decorated with a variety of pre-made, ready-to-hang posters. Any print items hung in the classroom should be meaningful and should clearly support learning.

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