Creating the kind of classroom culture where children are invested and engaged in their learning doesn’t just happen by luck when the ‘right’ combination of students happens your way. It must be created. Every year. With every group of students received. But how is that done? What will create the kind of atmosphere in which students cooperate with each other in socially responsible ways? “The rate of development depends on the learning environment we orchestrate.” (Peter Johnson, Engaging Literate Minds, p, 72.)
In Engaging Literate Minds, Peter Johnson reminds us that, “Our role as teachers is not primarily the traditional role of delivering knowledge. Our job is to keep the children engaged and in control of their learning while they are growing new knowledge and building a culture that will sustain that engagement and sense of agency.” p. 218
Picture books can be used as a vehicle to establish the kind of classroom environment we envision. Bibliotherapy, or conversations based on books, must not be underestimated. Not only are children deepening their comprehension as they engage in rich conversation, but their very being is contemplated. It’s a process that scaffolds students’ intellectual and social competence. You will be amazed at how these conversations can create a classroom culture beyond your wildest dreams!