If you have always wanted to have a word wall in your classroom, but were not sure how to begin, we can help. Word walls or displays are a great way to encourage vocabulary development and reinforce language skills. Whether you have an entire wall or a simple pocket chart to devote to it, a word wall can work in any classroom. Try the tricks below to get you started this school year!
Word Wall Basics
Cumulative vs. Work in Progress
Contrary to what some may believe, word walls are not cumulative displays of words learned throughout the year. Instead, they are a place to store new vocabulary from current lessons. Take key vocabulary words from stories being read, history lessons being taught and science experiments being conducted and place them on the word wall. As the lessons and stories change, so too should the words on display. Do not feel locked into having the same words displayed all year long, as that is not the true purpose of a class word wall.
Once words have been mastered, they can be transferred to a either a cumulative vocabulary board or placed in a file box word bank. Students should also have a record of the words that were displayed, either in a word journal or in their own file box word bank. Some teachers then use the past words for games of Bingo or other brain teasers. You can also pull words and use them as creative story starters for morning writing.
Word walls can be as simple or as complex as you make them. For the simplest word wall, use a sentence strip pocket chart where you can cut the words to size, slip them into the pockets and display it at the front of the class. If you have more wall space for displays, place the letters of the alphabet in a row and display the current word wall words below the corresponding letters. If there is no board space or wall space available, hang a clothesline across the room and clothespin the words to the line. Write the words on brightly colored sentence strips or on large, pre-made shapes. Make sure that the words are so clearly written that students can see them from across the room.
Do you use a word wall in your classroom? What do you find to be the most effective way to introduce new vocabulary to your students?
Share your ideas below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums! We’d love to hear how you do it!