This is one photograph of what a classroom following the PWIM model might look like. This classroom was on its 6th cycle. All the pictures are posted in the classroom so that children have access to them. In Comprehension Going Forward Nancy Commins gives us great rationale on page 202 ” The key in a linguistically diverse environment is that teachers always mediate understanding by building the conceptual understandings in the text through visual imagery and oral discussion ,not just the written word.” The vocabulary of each cycle is used through inquiry as well as helping with sentence and paragraph writing during the cycle but also all year. She goes on to say on page 211-“Unfortunately, too often I see what I think of as “word wallpaper” The standards are up, the steps in the writing process are on the wall next to a list of potential story starters, and a description of strategies good readers use are nearby. …no exemplars, no student work and no visual rubrics to help bring the print to life. ” Those comments really made me think of PWIM, as the teacher is constantly referring to the pictures for word study, writing and building vocabulary. It is a living, growing tool.
Obviously then, the pictures should be posted where students can use them.Extra words added, after the shake out can be on chart paper beside the cycle,added to the word wall or recorded in personal dictionaries. I am so disappointed by teachers who pull down a cycle when they are” done” with it. Their understanding of PWIM is obviously in need of a boost!!
Consideration needs to be made for storage of word and sentence cards. Many teachers keep current cycles in a ziplock baggie or an envelope.Each student has their own-their name or initials are written on the back in case of loss. A shoe box is very helpful to hold old cycles in for on-going word work. I really like to colour code each cycle. I might do my first cycle on pale pink, print all word cards and sentence strips on pale pink and class booklets from that cycle will have a pale pink colour. My next cycle might be white, then pale yellow, then pale blue…never bright colours like red as they are too distracting. In the photo above the teacher had the students store their word cards in the red pocket chart. It kept the words easy to store and access.
Another important element of the PWIM classroom, is a good classroom library-containing books that are all levels and topics, a balance of non-fiction and fiction,presented in an attractive, easy to access manner. Covers facing out versus spines is important. Daily Read alouds, think alouds and talk alouds are essntial. To Read more about classroom libraries, read regie Routman Reading Essentils and aslo Daily 5
The most important thing to remember is that the classrrom is co construted with the students based on their learning. It is not the teacher’s classroom-it belongs to the students. It will not look the same very year. Anne Davies says: We do not want to teach the same year twenty five times-we want to teach for twenty five years.