Beyond Aesthetics: The Third Teacher and the Literate Learner


The Third Teacher takes a close look at how the design of learning spaces can impact learning. Beyond mere aesthetics, which are undoubtedly essential, the set up and organization of a learning space impacts the learning that they are able to achieve. This is particularly true for literacy. The ability for students to be able to read is perhaps the most important thing that students need to be able to do. Reading is the foundation of all other literacies. If students are not able to read, then they will not able to demonstrate literacy in multiple areas that will lead to real choice and the ability to think critically within the world. I tried to show that in this diagram – with reading as the foundation for other literacies, and the ability to think critically, make good choices, and achieve personal success.



I believe that the physical set-up of the classroom can have a significant impact on how we implement strategies that promote reading success. Based on the new document from the Ministry of Ontario: The Third Teacher: 

According to this document, there are 4 roles of the Literate Learner:

  1. Meaning Maker
  2. Code User
  3. Text User
  4. Text Analyzer


With these 4 roles in mind, I want to know how my learning environment can support literate behaviours? How can the Third Teacher help students to effectively manage texts in appropriate ways and help students to become literate learners?



Based on this document, I created this checklist of some of the things that we need to think of to support our existing instructional strategies that create literate learners.


To support Literacy in your Learning Space, do you have evidence of the following?


I also added culturally relevant symbols to this checklist. Culturally relevant symbols (without cultural appropriation) that help reinforce the mandates of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and promote FNMI perspectives on literacy and learning.

Further, I would ask questions pertaining to how this environment provides effective feedback toward our learners.


I am very curious to see and learn about examples of learning spaces that promote literate learners, and that can also be created on a lean budget. What design features have you found to work well in your learning space?


Deborah McCallum

C 2015

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: