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Students are immersed in language both through instruction and classroom environment

LKSD Best Practice #11

This best practice reflects the crossroads between environment and instruction.  

When students are immersed in the learning experience, knowledge acquisition becomes inherent because everything they hear and see is informative and supports learning. When implemented, students are interacting with the content through speaking, writing, reading. Through these interactions, students are primed to build actionable connections between language and application and discover how the meanings exist in context.

What they SEE

  • word walls

  • content boards

  • visual cues and manipulatives

What they're DOING

  • interacting with peers on paired work

  • contributing to group learning

  • writing in reflective journal

  • engaging in content-specific activities (this includes DreamBox, Lexia, ALEKS, etc.)

What they HEAR

  • the teacher using the language of instruction (English, Y/Cugtun)

  • peers using academic vocabulary 

What they're SPEAKING

  • academic language

  • articulation of their thinking processes

  • arguing points of view 

  • contributing to whole or small group discussion 

What does this look like? 

When a classroom is set up to surround students in language:  

  • Learners are provided authentic, meaningful opportunities to read and write 

    • Avoid the use of low level worksheets 

    • The lesson engages learners in “content journal writing reflection” 

  • Lessons are challenging and extend from comprehension level to application or higher

    • This promotes depth of thought and critical thinking in context 

  • Instruction is meaningful with the use of visuals and objects 

    • Lesson uses effective visuals, objects, and realia​

    • Content learned is authentic, meaningful, motivating, and relevant 

  • Students engage in paired or cooperative group learning activities  

    • Pairs are able to support each other’s learning 

  • The teacher effectively implements conceptual refinement to address learning misconceptions in real time 

    • Don't let the learning slip away

These students were working on a paired writing assignment about the holidays. The pair went to the calendar to better understand how to spell “Thanksgiving.” 


Why we love it:

The teacher has embedded a routine where students know how to make use of the environment to support their learning.

Credit: Kaymbra Mortensen, ME School 

Beware of Wallpaper

We've all been there. Between lesson plans, grading, parent teacher conferences, staff meetings, extracurricular engagements, and more, it's hard to stay on top of updating content boards or hanging student work. But that’s the catch - if we go too long without changing the environment, the environment turns into wallpaper. In other words, everything starts to look the same. When this happens, students are no longer actively interacting with what’s being displayed. 



  • Make it part of your routine: 

    • Use those last ten minutes of the day to let students help you hang a new SGA (student generated alphabet), pin exemplar work on the content board, or add words on the word wall. It’s a win-win situation when students are involved in bringing their work full circle. In doing this, we promote ownership and inadvertently engage them with the content they’re hanging. 

  • Check the dates 

    • Consider creating an accountability system for yourself by routinely checking the dates on student work. If the work is older than one month or is from the previous unit, it’s time to replace it with new student work.

In this video we see the teacher staying in the language of instruction and using visual cues to support her lesson delivery. 

Credit: Teacher Fran, 5th grade, Quinhagak 2022

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