A word wall is a collection of words displayed in the classroom as a tool to support student’s reading, writing, and vocabulary success. There are many different kinds of word walls including high frequency, spelling, vocabulary, science, and math. These walls are constructed in view of students and developed over time. In my classroom, I’m constantly updating the wall to meet the needs of my students’ performance levels and content standards.
The Math Word Wall
The purpose of a math wall is to support mathematical thinking and ensure students are developing skills and concepts needed for independent explorations. During the launch of my math workshop, I incorporate an essential question with an embedded vocabulary word. These words are highlighted, illustrated, and featured at the students’ eye level.
When introducing the word, I work to have the kids make connections with its meaning. Connections can be made through models, illustrations, and objects. With file folders on hand, the kids assist with adding the newly introduced vocabulary word to the folder. The word isn’t complete without a visual representation, to activate schema in prior lessons. Why use a file folder? Each folder develops a topic with several words and becomes a tangible object hung by clips for students to use throughout each component of the workshop.
Interactive walls involve communication and collaboration of people and things. One of the challenges a teacher can face is how to keep the wall relevant. I like to incorporate time for students to practice words introduced through various math activities. Listed below are a few ways to provide students with additional interactions with math content.
Each student is provided with three, 3×5 inch, post it notes. The kids create a three way fold and cut along the lines. Once all post it notes are cut the kids arrange them into 3 rows of 3. Using words introduced, the kids record their desired vocabulary word on each sheet. After I call out the meaning of the word, the kids cover the word with a button.
What’s My Name?
Students are given a name pouch with a specific math vocabulary word. This pouch is hung from a lanyard around the students’ neck. Throughout the day, kids will refer to each other by the vocabulary word rather than their given name.
As an additional work station, I provide students with an opportunity to interact with the words from a word wall through a word hunt. The kids work to search the room, high and low, for the posted words. Once they’ve found all words, they work to place them in alphabetical order.
Having a portable word wall has opened many new doors for independent practice. Upon completion of a unit, students are able to pull file folders from a filing bin and reference old words. However you decide to incorporate words into your classroom, I encourage you to make the words as interactive as possible.
About the Author:
Cheryl Saoud is a second grade teacher from Jacksonville, Florida. She would like to invite you to visit www.primarygraffiti.blogspot.com for additional teaching resources.
Barbara J says
I love word walls, especially math word walls. I have a set of word cards that I found online that I use in math all the time. They take math terms and illustrate them in a way that will trigger a student’s memory and help them understand the word. For example, one card has a rectangle. The word ‘area’ is written inside the rectangle, because it is short and fits inside. The long word ‘perimeter’ is stretched around the outside of the rectangle. Anything to help a student remember is fantastic!
I like several ideas on your blog about organizing word walls. This is my first year in the classroom and my word wall needs help. Thanks for the ideas!
Kelly McCoy says
I so need to share this with my colleagues!!!
This is fabulous idea for a math work wall. It is relevant for the time needed, and does not take up a lot of space. I like idea of it being in a file folder, and that the students have access to it even after the words have been updated. I wish I could see an example of one.
Jen McDowell says
I always struggle with how to use word walls. This has some great ideas, especially in Math. I can’t wait to put these into use in my classroom!!!
Great ideas! Can’t wait to give them a try,
I love the ideas of word walls, especially when I worked with struggling readers. It was such an accomplishment for them to look at all the words they knew! That last two years I have taught the on level and gifted readers in our pod of 100 kids. Honestly, I think I was more creative with my struggling readers. I know all kids can benefit from vocabulary instruction – I need to find a way to make meaningful for the kids I am currently working with!
Cheryl Saoud says
I’ve uploaded pictures of how the word wall is used in the classroom on my blog at http://www.primarygraffiti.blogspot.com/2012/03/word-walls-guest-columnist-and-other.html
Cathy Hammett says
I have used the name tag idea, but if they are called on they had to use their word in a sentence. I love the word hunt idea!