Word walls are a key component of our literacy framework.
Word walls support literacy growth in students because they are an effective way to create schemas and strengthen knowledge in any grade, any topic.
Word walls should be interactive, allowing students to be engaged in the process and make connections to their real life.
They should be in an area of the room that is easily accessible, as they are a bridge to learning and can be an anchor for all students, not just those that struggle. (Pinnell, G., & Fountas, I., 1998, p. 43).
- Word walls should include words that students struggle with; this could include grade level words (Fry words, Dolch words, etc.), as well as words taken from their personal work.
- Students can have personal dictionaries for support, but this is a separate skill than word walls. Word walls supersede personal dictionaries, as they are a better visual for all students, especially our struggling students.
- Word walls are only as good as you use them. Students need to see how to use them, referring to it in lessons, discussions, etc.
- Having starter activities/games that use the word wall is a great way to get students comfortable with using it. The more you use it during class and model it, the more students will use it in their independent work!
- You don’t want students to feel singled out or less intelligent because they have to use them. “Everyone struggles when it comes to spelling, a word wall is a great way to…..” “I’m having trouble spelling this word, let’s go to the word wall.”
- In addition to word walls with sight words, you could have an academic word wall (vocabulary words for science, social, math, etc.). Students can make these!
- Students should have access to them at all times; you don’t have to cover up during tests, as it is a part of the visual environment.
Check these sites for some ideas: