Physical space refers to the arrangement of the classroom (furniture and wall space) and the organization of materials that support literacy and encourage independence in students. The classroom arrangement can encourage varied encounters with print and facilitate large and small group conversations (in a library area, comfortable reading spaces, meeting area with easel, or literacy centers). The wall space can display attractive, organized, environmental print that reflects students' lives and backgrounds. Placing students' artwork and writing on the walls give students ownership in their classroom. Reading and writing materials can be arranged to be inviting and accessible.
Materials and Tools
Materials and tools are the objects and print materials used to engage students in literacy activities. Examples include the following: word walls that foster word recognition and correct spelling; an attendance chart that builds name recognition and initial letter identification; work boards or job charts that allow students to move independently through tasks; enlarged poetry or other charts that model reading strategies and encourage independent practice; pointers for reading that help students attend to and build concepts about print; and stamp pads and letter cubes that help students practice building words.
Techniques and Management Practices
Classroom routines, organizational techniques, and management practices can establish a productive learning environment that promotes literacy while also encouraging student independence and community responsibility. Examples include daily attendance using a pocket chart with students' names to encourage responsibility for checking in while building name recognition and letter awareness; daily morning meetings that provide opportunities for language development and for specific instruction in reading and writing; classroom jobs; and opportunities for student leadership of daily routines.
Tone and Atmosphere
The tone and atmosphere of a classroom are conveyed through the teacher's voice, word choice, body language, and physical positioning, as well as through the arrangement of the room and organization of classroom routines. The tone and atmosphere can communicate the following: the belief that all students can learn and are capable of taking responsibility; enthusiasm for all forms of literacy; the clear purpose of each instructional activity; a clarity of expectations; an appreciation of individual differences; and responsiveness and flexibility. A teacher sitting next to the students on the floor, or helping shy students communicate their work through drawings are situations that create such an inclusive atmosphere.