- The first days and weeks of school set the stage for what
is to come.
- During this time, teachers help students learn to
become a literary community.
- This is when teachers can help students learn to feel
comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas.
- This is when teachers begin to develop an atmosphere
that enables the high level of student involvement that
is a hallmark of an envisionment building classroom.
- Many teachers begin with experiences that help them get
to know their students, their strengths, interests, and
- Other teachers help students get to know one another and
get comfortable with one another.
- Some teachers use the early days of class to help students
understand what will be important and what they will be
doing throughout the year.
- A teacher's knowledge of the students helps avoid difficulties
in the formation of literature groups.
- Choosing a particularly memorable activity for the first
day establishes an impression strong enough to last throughout
the school year.
- Establishing rules, routines, and expectations during
the first few days gives students a sense of security.
- Students need to trust that their opinions can be voiced
- Teachers can ask students to discuss what they know about
the class from previous students and to look around the
room, interpret what they see, and make predictions about
what the class will be like.
- Teachers use a variety of strategies for introducing students
to novels and the literature discussion strategies they
will use when they read throughout the year.
- Many use shared texts, often ones they read aloud,
to begin teaching students envisionment-building strategies.
- Some choose a new publication that they have not read,
and read it aloud to the class.
- Some read a series of teasers from a number of books
as a way to help students decide which they would like
- Some direct a class discussion that explicitly explores
the qualities of discussion and conversation valued
in the envisionment-building classroom.
- Some use discussions about movies or television programs
to foreground the kinds of analysis and discussion they
expect students to bring to their reading of literature.
- Some have students share journal entries based on
literature that has been read aloud to introduce discussion
- Envisionment-building teachers help students ask some
of the following questions as they experience literary texts:
"What did you notice?" "What did you see?"
"What surprises you?" "What are your questions?"
"What seems significant to you?"
- Envisionment-building teachers help students explore possibilities.
They ask questions and suggest ideas that help students
think about other perspectives, motives, or outcomes.
- Envisionment-building teachers also help students learn
to agree and disagree with each other, to refer to and build
on what others have already said, and to introduce new ideas
for the group to consider.
- Envisionment-building teachers know it takes time and
direct instruction for students to learn to converse confidently
and independently about their reading.
- By the end of the first few weeks of class, students should
be able to articulate what is valued in the classroom as
well as some of the ways the class will go about enacting