Cambourne's conditions for learning

How educators are making literacy learning happen.

Looking at what facilitates literacy learning in the classroom, Brian Cambourne developed a set of conditions that have guided educators for years in setting up effective literacy pedagogy and instruction in the classroom.


#1. Engagement

Engagement is the overarching condition that must occur at all times and during all other conditions. Engagement involves communicating and modelling relevant reasons for becoming readers and writers.

Engagement at all times. Ask yourself: "How can I talk less right now, and give responsibility and a chance for engagement to my students?" "I know this information, but what can I do to make my students find the information on their own?" "How can I talk less, and hear more of my students?"

These questions will be running through my mind as I am in front of my class. I want my students to be having "aha!" moments all of the time. This means that they will be doing most of the thinking in my classroom. This is what I believe the classroom entails.

#2. Immersion

Learners are immersed with visual and oral texts, of all different kinds. They are visually and orally saturated with the language.

Especially with a French Immersion background, I understand the importance of being immersed in language. It makes your learning environment so much more rich with useful information that can be both aestheically pleasing and useful for students.

#3. Demonstration

Teacher is a model for children, demonstrating and making clear the thinking processes used in language arts.

As a teacher, you are a role model to your students. Whatever you do, they want to do. They look up to you and want to achieve your literacy skills. Demonstrating is the gift that you give to your students.

#4. Expectation

The teacher makes everyone feel like they are equally capable of completeing any task in his or her classroom.

All students in your classroom should feel like they are capable of being proficient communicators like you. If they believe in themselves, they have the ability to do great things. If students feel discouraged at any point, they may shut down. Rather, if you make it clear that you have an expectation with your students, they understand that you believe in them to be able to accomplish any task.

#5. Responsibility

Learners feel that they have a responsibility in the classroom, to take charge and guide their learning in a meaningful and productive way.

The constructivist theory of learning puts learner responsbility as one of its underlying principles. Teacher is facilitator or learning, and the students have the responsibility of guiding their own

learning. I also believe in this model for learning, where the student must be given more responsibility as the student in order to encourage practical learning and overall student engagement.

#6. Use

Students have many opportunities to use and practice their knowledge and skills.

Use. Use. Use. Use. I believe that it's important to give students as many chances as possible to succeed. Practice makes perfect. It is no different for our students.

Take advantage of the multiple modes of instruction, using technology and allowing students to capitalize on their preferred methods of learning and assessment. Giving students the options makes them excited to show you what they know.

#7. Approximation

Students understand the process of learning will be challenging yet attainable. Also, students understand that "you can't get it right without getting it wrong".

Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development is the key to letting students see their goals as attainable, and taking the chance to realize them.

It's rewarding to achieve a goal, but there is nothing more rewarding than achieving one that is hard earned.

#8. Response

Students will recieve feedback and constructive knowledge about their work. This includes areas where they need improvement, but most of all, the highlights of their work.

Students will enjoy the feedback from their peers and others because they want their work to be recognized. They want to be gratified for the hard work they've done and what they have accomplished. For this reason, this condition is one of the most valued conditions of them all.

Brian Cambourne: Literacy Development - Conditions of Learning


This poster was created on behalf of the University of Alberta EDEL 305 Language Arts in the Elementary School course and Coralie Kerr, M. Ed.

Why the Smore?

Smore is a great tool for presenting information. It provides a multimodal approach to conveying information. It allows you to visually design information and organize it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and easier to comprehend. Furthermore, it includes tabs for text, picture, presenting events, embedding links and using forms to gather user information. Smore is a Web 2.0 tools that allows students to interact with the information as opposed to simply reading and recieving information. It's very easy to use and is accessible for free.