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A student's Literacy Environment includes the resources provided by their home, school, and community that helps them develop their literacy skills. Providing classroom supports and resources for families that strengthen the Literacy Environment can help create an equal foundation for all students.
While the Home Literacy Environment is critical in the development of early literacy skills, during adolescence, students spend more time away from home, both in school and with peers in their community, and have more agency in their literacy choices. The Literacy Environment spans across these areas -- home, school, and community -- to influence the continued development of students' literacy skills.
The Literacy Environment is multifaceted. First, it involves aspects of print exposure, including:
The Literacy Environment also involves how others influence a developing reader and writer, including:
Literacy development during adolescence is also critical because voluntary writing and reading habits, which are linked to print exposure, are established during these school years. Students report that they have a hard time finding texts that capture their interest, making a robust Literacy Environment even more critical. A collaborative, supportive writing environment where students have many opportunities to write on topics of their choice is also critical.
Many students spend a large portion of their time composing and reading online (e.g., websites, blogs, emails, text messages). Thus, while having access to print books, magazines, and tools for writing is an essential component of a successful Literacy Environment, access to technology, such as computers and mobile phones, is also important, and may not always be available to students in lower-income communities.
Physically acting out a text or enacting major themes from texts enhances reading comprehension, particularly as texts become more complex.
When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.
Audiobooks allow students to hear fluent reading and experience books above their reading skills.
When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.
Students practice making and finding meaning in texts through book discussions moderated by teachers to varying degrees.
When peers are able to work together to plan, draft, edit, and revise during the Composition process, their writing quality improves.
For adolescent learners, the Composition process can become more robust, as learners begin to express ideas through multiple media, which includes visual, audio, and digital production.
Dictionaries and thesauruses can serve as resources for students to expand their Vocabulary knowledge, as they provide easy access to definitions and similar words to help students remember words and meanings more readily.
As part of a varied curriculum, explicit instruction in reading comprehension strategies from teachers can help older students use strategies meaningfully and flexibly.
Teaching students how to effectively search the internet is critical for helping them learn how to find accurate and relevant information and aids in developing information literacy.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
Explicitly teaching strategies for planning, writing, and revising texts improves students' writing quality.
Increasing how much and how frequently students write improves both their writing quality and content knowledge.
Providing constructive feedback supports students' writing development by letting them know how to improve their writing.
Visiting places connected to classroom learning provides opportunities to deepen understanding through firsthand experiences.
As students move through multimodal stations pertaining to a particular unit, the social and physical nature of the activity supports deeper understanding.
Games help students practice their literacy skills in a fun, applied context.
During guided inquiry, teachers foster student autonomy by designing lessons centered on meaningful questions in which students locate, analyze, and present relevant information on their own or in small groups.
Independent reading promotes literacy by emphasizing student choice with teacher support in selecting books, as well as setting the expectations that everyone is a reader.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
By observing, rereading, and closely analyzing published writing, students see examples and learn the strategies of good writing that they can integrate into their own Composition.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.
Providing multiple texts on the same topic or theme allows students to interact with multiple perspectives and develop their critical thinking skills.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
When students provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve their writing, and engage in Metacognition.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning and increases Motivation.
When teachers ask questions or have students create questions before introducing a text, they activate student interest and help them assess what they already know about a given topic.
When students write from a non-dominant or marginalized perspective, they consider and give voice to points of view that are often missing.
Providing guiding prompts and questions for students to use when reading or participating in discussions deepens their understanding of texts and gives them space to question and grapple with issues of power, justice, and equity.
When teachers provide students with model texts for their writing, they learn to identify effective elements to incorporate into their own writing.
Reading aloud to adolescents models Reading Fluency as texts become more complex and disciplinary in nature and therefore, more difficult to understand.
Using texts to discuss complex emotions and perspectives with students can help them see how they influence behavior and draw their own personal connections.
Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.
When students explain to others, they deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning.
Students build their confidence, strategy use, and comprehension by reading and rereading multiple texts.
Providing texts in braille, large font, and with text-to-speech allows learners with visual needs to access content.
Reading materials of varying complexity and levels are necessary for all students to experience success.
Having culturally relevant reading materials, including multicultural and diverse texts, are critical for supporting all students.
Providing access to a variety of multimodal texts that align with the interests of learners allows them to practice digital, information, and Critical Literacy.
With figurative language and creative sentence structure, poetry supports the development of a deeper understanding of the different ways language makes meaning.
Books on social and emotional learning (SEL) topics, such as developing empathy and productive persistence, help teach these skills.
Giving students voice and choice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful and relevant to them.
Think-pair-share encourages meaningful student discussion by allowing for extra processing time and multiple shares.
Word sorts are multisensory activities that help learners identify patterns and group words based on different categories while promoting Vocabulary development.
Displaying academic Vocabulary on a word wall can reinforce key terms and concepts that students are learning.
Writing conferences allow students to fully immerse, share, reflect, and receive feedback during the writing process, promoting Motivation for continuing the sometimes lengthy revision process that occurs in the upper grades.
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