Active literacy is a term that is used to describe learning that includes instructional practices that supports the idea that student thinking is important. The key components of an active literacy classroom are reading, writing, listening, and investigating. Teachers cannot read minds, but they can help students understand what they are reading by talking and writing about their thinking.
A teacher’s classroom environment is very important because it sends a non verbal message of what is important to the teacher. The classroom environment not only includes the things that are posted on the wall of a classroom, but it also includes the instructional practices that a teacher chooses to teach his/her content.
There are several components to creating an active literacy classroom but there are 4 instructional practices that I think will put a teacher on the right path to creating a classroom environment that supports active literacy.
In order for students to understand how to approach a text teachers must model the thinking process through a think aloud. Children often see reading as an invisible process, by using a think aloud it makes the reading process becomes more concrete.
When I search for anchor charts on Pinterest many of the anchor charts that can be found are poster like displays of math skills or reading strategies. Teachers are to use anchor charts to record students’ thinking about a text, lesson, or strategy so that students and the teacher can return to the anchor chart to remember a particular process. Anchor charts connect past teaching and learning to future teaching and learning so that students are reminded of what was taught before so that they can better understand what is to come. There are 4 types of anchor charts:
Strategy Charts- teachers record students’ questions during a questioning study, their inferences during an inferring study, their connections during a connection study and so forth.
Process Charts- students share their insights about particular strategies
Content Charts- teachers record the interesting and important content based information that kids discover during a content-area study
Genre Charts – What’s the best way to read and understand different genres? As students discuss the topic, teachers capture their thoughts in writing
Text coding is another part of an active literacy classroom because it allows students to leave tracks of their thinking. One of the most difficult task that I have encountered as a teacher is getting students show their thinking. When I have asked students to tell me how did they got their answer they are not able to describe to me in detail their thought process of how they arrived at that answer, especially if it is a multiple choice item.
In a classroom that promotes active literacy, teachers increase the amount of time that students spend talking to each other. There are several ways that teachers can implement purposeful talk by using, turn and talk, jigsawing, paired reading, and small and large group shares.
Active literacy is not only applicable to reading classes or teachers it can also be implemented in all content areas. As the new school year approaches I have begun to think about how I can create a classroom environment that tell visitors, parents and students that my students’ thinking matters.