Characteristics Of A High Quality Classroom Environment Part II



Greetings and Salutations,

After a week of yummy turkey and sleep I have my plan to use in my classroom. This post is part of a two part series on characteristics of a high quality classroom environment. The original post can be found here called Characteristics Of a High Quality Classroom Environment. In this post you will find ideas of how to surround my students with words. I am choosing art vocabulary building activities with creating a product as much as learning words. We are using authentic learning in the process. Again if there is something amiss in my post please let me know. I am attempting to use the APA style of citing.

Artfully, Mrs. Berry

The Plan

The area that I will develop is surrounding my students with words. Fountas and Pinnell (2006) say this about learning vocabulary, “If a reader already has a word in his oral vocabulary, it is easier to learn to read it and write it” (p. 162). I have built a foundation for my students with having art vocabulary words in their oral vocabulary. Currently, I have my students use movement to describe a word. I also use visuals with my students when I am describing the word. Students are able to use art vocabulary words in verbal context; however, they are not currently being exposed to art vocabulary in text. This is an area that I can incorporate into my lessons with planning.

There are three physical environments that I need to develop to surround my students with words. The three ares include my classroom for grades three though six, six different classrooms in same building for grades kindergarten through second grade, and three different classrooms in another building. This overall plan will describe what will occur in each of the environments.

The first environment is my own classroom. What I envision for my students is a study of the different art vocabulary words. I will have my third grade students create their own art word wall. McGill-Franzen (2006) describes word walls as a way to, “help children become independent readers and writers by making the patterns within and across words more apparent to them (p. 186). My third grade students will study line vocabulary. Each student will have their own notecard in which they write one of the line words in crayon. They will draw a picture to match the line word on the front. Boushey and Moser (2009) describe why students need this strategy, “Making a picture or mental image assists readers in understanding what they read by creating images in their minds, based on the details in the text and their prior knowledge” (p. 159). Afterwards, they will write the definition on the back of the card. Lastly, they will add watercolor paint on top of the wax crayon word. Students will then present their card at the end of the activity to their classmates. After they present they will tape their word to the wall.

My fourth grade students will study shapes in five collaborative groups. Each group will have a 12” by 18” sheet of paper. Each group will define the following categories: geometric, natural, positive, negative, and anamorphosis. Students in their group will write down the word in the center of the paper. They will then write the definition underneath the word. Students will then look for visual examples from magazines or draw pictures to describe the word. The Michigan Department of Education describes the reason behind the strategy of visualizing, recording, and reflection on mental images, “Good readers create pictures in their minds. They use their senses to connect to the characters, events, settings, and ideas. While reading students should note the places where images are clear and distinct” (p. 65) With the images students will college the pictures onto their page. These will then be placed in the art classroom.

The fifth grade students will look at the elements of art vocabulary. Students will create their own mobile for one of the elements of art. The reason for creating a vocabulary mobile is to incorporate novelty into the vocabulary lesson. Sousa (2006) writes about novelty, “When an unexpected stimulus aries-such as a loud noise from an empty room-a rush of adrenalin closes down all unnecessary activity and focuses the brain’s attentions so it can spring into action” (p. 28). Students will sign up for one of the elements. Each student then will take the word and place this at the top of the mobile. Students will then write down the definition for their vocabulary word. Students will then select 3-7 images or draw images that relate to the vocabulary word and hang these images from the definition and vocabulary word. These will then be hung from the celling.

The sixth grade students will create their own 18 by 24” advertisement poster for the principles of design. Students will use their word and definition in the poster. Students will also select images and facts to represent their text word. Emphasis will be placed on making the main vocabulary word large. These will then be hung in the hallway heading into the art classroom.

The next environment occurs in six different classrooms for grades kindergarten to second grade. I have been working with the students on several art vocabulary words. Those words are: vertical, diagonal, horizontal, spiral, zig-zag, curved, parallel, perpendicular, contour, perimeter, pattern, overlap, primary, secondary, neutral, and texture. In each of the six classrooms contain a smart board. My plan is do develop a matching activity for student participation. I will have a picture and the students will match the word with the picture. Each student will match one word as the other students watch. The students will also have their own notecard size art vocabulary word with a picture to add color with a crayon. Students will then build their word wall in the classroom. Collaboration with the classroom teacher will be needed for each of these classes for a spot in the classroom where we can build their art word wall.

The final environment is in another building across three classrooms. Again, collaboration with the classroom teachers is necessary for the final piece of this activity. Students in the first classroom range from kindergarten to third grade. They will participate in the same activity as the kindergarten and second grade students except without a whiteboard. They will be using magnet notecards with art vocabulary and pictures for their white board. Students will then color their own word wall notecards and build their own wall. The fourth and fifth grade classroom will create mobile elements of art. In the same style as the first environment of fifth grade students. The last group of sixth through eighth grade students will create their own advertisement for principles of design. This is in the same style as the first environment of sixth grade students. Except the size of the paper will be reduced to 12” x 18”.

By surrounding my students with art words, I am creating an environment where students are able to collect and use words that they see around them. I am also building vocabulary scaffolding for my students to use in context and with their reading and writing. With the scaffolding my students will be able to write about art using art vocabulary.


Fountas, I., Pinnell, G.v (2006). Teaching comprehending and fluency: Thinking, talking, and writing about reading, k-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

McGill-Franzen, A. (2006). Kindergarten literacy: Matching assessment and instruction in kindergarten. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.

Boushey, G., Moser J. (2009). The cafe book: Engaging all students in daily literacy assessment and instruction. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Sousa, D. (2006). How the brain learns: Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Writing across the curriculum. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Education retrieved from:


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