In my last post I mentioned a few specific terms that might have different meaning to me than they do for my readers. I must lead by example, therefore I should probably explain myself.
This paragraph appeared in my most recent post.
The experts in early literacy development know the importance of immersion in the discourse and language of the community. Simply: experiences with language build understanding of language. Classrooms should be text rich environments. Whether it is a kindergarten class or year 10 class, their learning environment must be filled with subject based vocabulary and environmental print that supports it.
You might be wondering…
What is Environmental Print?
Words or images that label, signal or simply exist in the world around us are considered to be environmental print. Kindergarten teachers are great at providing environmental print for their early readers and writers. They label furniture, play areas, work spaces, resources, materials and student cubbies. Labels use words and images so students are able to make connections between the symbols that form the words and the things the words name. Kindergarten teachers are great people and we can learn a lot from them when it comes to supporting and enhancing the literacy skills of our students. Environmental print comes in all shapes and sizes and while it might seem inappropriate for middle school teachers to label the furniture, there are plenty of ways that we can construct text rich environments for our students.
Once I noticed that I hadn’t really defined Environmental Print, I also realised that I had be writing about Anchor Charts and Posters as if everyone knows the difference between these two wonderful resources. I shouldn’t make such assumptions. I know better than that!
If you construct the chart to revise key concepts, record learning and with student input – they don’t have to physically write or draw on the chart – then you are creating an anchor chart. I think of these as displays that anchor the learning. In my personal opinion, a word wall is a big anchor chart. When charting with students you are constructing learning, recording ideas/ suggestions, gathering your own information about their knowledge and helping students to make connections between past and future experiences. Charts should be titled, easy to read/ reference, include images and be relevant to the current learning in the classroom. Charts are dynamic and – in most cases- will not remain on the wall for very long. If the charts end up as permanent fixtures, the students will be less likely to access them in any real way.
I see posters as being commercially produced or created solely by teachers. Students might create their own posters for various purposes and obviously they will be displayed in the classroom too. Posters might not always be directly linked to the current learning in the classroom – but be purposeful at the same time. Posters will be colourful, possibly be school mandated, might be teacher created, probably display subject specific information, may even be on display all year round and definitely have a real purpose in your classroom.
That’s that then. I think you get the idea. I could show you some photos of posters vs anchor charts, but I think you get the idea. Maybe we should create a chart?