Promoting a Literacy-Rich Environment for Young Adults

Instructor: Joelle Brummitt-Yale

Joelle has taught middle school Language Arts and college academic writing. She has a master's degree in education.

How can surrounding students with literacy not only make them better readers but also better students? In this lesson, we will learn about the importance of creating a literacy-rich classroom environment for middle and high school students, and key elements we can include in our classrooms to make them literacy-rich.

Why a Literacy-Rich Environment is Important for Adolescents

Plastic bins filled with books organized by reading level. Walls covered with vocabulary words. A reading nook complete with comfortable chairs and pillows. Pieces of illustrated student writing posted on a colorful bulletin board. These are the elements typically seen in an elementary school classroom; research has shown us that young children need to be surrounded by print and encouraged to encounter it at every turn to learn to become able readers. But does a student's need to be in a literacy-rich classroom environment stop when she becomes an adolescent?

A literacy-rich classroom environment is one where students are surrounded by reading and writing. Literacy-rich environments are essential, not just for children. They are also important as young people become teenagers to help them develop more sophisticated reading skills and become life-long readers and learners. As students move into the middle grades, more and more of the information they are exposed to is presented in print form. They must read this print information for many different purposes, and must write for a variety of audiences. Being able to effectively read, use what they have read, and communicate what they know through writing, is key to adolescent students' academic success. Surrounding students with all forms of literacy including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking helps them use literacy effectively to learn and communicate.

Elements of a Literacy-Rich Classroom

There are a number of ways that any classroom, whether it is an English/Language Arts class or a content area, can become a literacy-rich environment for young adults. Here are a few key ways to transform your classroom into a literacy-rich environment:

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