Word Wall Function

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by iteachbx, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Aug 6, 2013

    What is the function of your word wall? Is it so that students can spell words correctly or find good vocabulary words to use in their writing?

    Here's what I'm thinking...

    For the past 2 years I've had a traditional wall, a-b-c order, random words from our terrible vocab program, commonly misspelled words, etc. The kids don't use it. Last year they had personal word walls in their writing folders for spelling, these were heavily utilized, especially during editing and I will definitely continue this.

    But I don't want the traditional word wall anymore. What I'm envisioning is using my back board (the size of the whole wall) as my word wall and instead of putting up the letters, putting up pictures of books we've read or titles of articles we've read for close reading and having words from the books or the articles that we've discussed. Then having some sort of interactive piece where they can take the word back to their seat and see a definition or how it was used in the context of the article or story. I feel like this would be so much more meaningful. Truth is, I don't care that much about spelling. I like that they can refer to the words on the their personal word walls when editing but other than that I'd rather stress using better vocabulary than just having a list of words. Does that make sense? What do you think?
     
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  3. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Aug 6, 2013

    I also believe that many word walls look good or are put up because they are required, but are not utilized very well by the kids. I never understood the abc order and having like 50 words up there-especially the sight words, because if they can't read the word "the", they certainly aren't going to be able to find it on the bulletin board.

    I think your ideas are very good ones. :thumb: My wall only has 10-15 words at a time-I rotate them out as I add new vocabulary. I put pictures with the words, so they can find what they are looking for and it's also interactive-they can take the words down and use them in their writing. I have them use it in their workstations as well.
     
  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Aug 6, 2013

    I put our sight words up in ABC order. Every word is taught before it is put on the wall. I use it as a tool when the students are writing - I point out words on the word wall that they have misspelled in their writing. We also play games using the word wall so students become familiar with the words. I also do weekly 'word wall quizzes' where I dictate words and sentences from the word wall and students need to write them down.
     
  5. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Aug 6, 2013

    I could see the traditional walls being more useful for sight words, but in 3rd grade its very few kids that need help with sight words.
     
  6. teacherwithlove

    teacherwithlove Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2013

    I was considering ditching the idea of a Word Wall and actually just having a prefixes-root words-suffixes Wall.
     
  7. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Aug 7, 2013

    I really like your idea!


    I ditched my word wall at the end of the school year, despite my colleagues gasps and the "talk" about how having a word wall has been part of the "curriculum" piece our reading coach started for the school 10 years ago--she's now at a different school.

    And I ditched it because of exactly the same reasons: the kids didn't use it for any other purpose than to cheat off the board for spelling tests. Yes, I could have taken them down, but, again, requirements got the best of me.

    Pinning up words the students need for reading, writing, and math as we go might be the direction I'm going.
     
  8. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I am a little afraid of how admins will react to this. Might have to run it by them first...but I think if I explain how the kids will have access to personal word walls for spelling and give my reasoning they might be on board for it.
     
  9. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 8, 2013

    I'm very interested in word walls that are individual... like in a 3 prong folder or something, where each child has one.

    I'm interested in more word wall ideas for kindergarten. I find that I don't utilize the word walls that are huge and take up space on the white board etc.
     
  10. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    I just printed off a sheet last night for a "word wall" to go in my students writing folders. We'll add words they personally need to remember, the whole class needs to remember, and words we come across in our reading and spelling.

    I think if the students have access to "a" word wall, the admins. will be okay with it. Not super excited because of the old stigma of having a "print rich environment", but in the same sense having that environment, but built as the students learn. (Hope that makes sense after only a 1/2 of a cup of coffee and 4 hours of sleep.)
     
  11. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aug 8, 2013

    I also got rid of my word wall last year. Like your class, my students weren't really using it; they were using their individual word walls more often. It just seemed silly to use such a big board for something that wasn't even benefiting students. Instead, I used the space for various ELA anchor charts.
     
  12. Lysander

    Lysander Companion

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    Aug 11, 2013

    My word wall is NOT just vocabulary words, but words the students will need in their writing. Students are usually the ones to suggest words for the word wall (this does take some training at the beginning of the year). Either high frequency words, commonly misspelled words, discipline-specific words, etc. I have a separate board (much smaller) for story-specific vocabulary.
     
  13. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 15, 2013

    I like that idea Lysander. To use it more as a high frequency word wall in combination with student request and commonly misspelled words. I found that it was difficult when I tried to make my word wall include EVERYTHING! Story vocab, high frequency words etc.

    I wish that I could make small books title sight words where it is
    Spiral bound index cards A-Z where they can add words as they learn them.

    Still working on the perfect system for what will work with my group.
     
  14. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Aug 16, 2013

    I found the word-wall invaluable and well used by my students - especially the lowest performers. The wall had the alphabet across the top of the white board and 10 magnetic words from the FRY LIST were added each week. At the end of 1st grade there were well over 300 words on the board and all students were required to be able to at least be able to recognize and read them. Most could spell them all, too.

    Every week, when we added words, we had a lesson in alphabetizing and a quick review of the previous words. This especially helped the low performers, but it certainly didn't hurt the bright kids either since some of those little high-frequency words are the most difficult words in the English language to spell.

    If a kid can't read "the", then the kid can't read.... pure and simple.

    They HAVE TO learn those most common words before they can make any progress at all in reading.

    Steve
     
  15. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 16, 2013

    Well put Steve.
     
  16. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Aug 16, 2013

    Thanks MzMorreTeaches,
    It's always nice to receive a compliment. Here's a video you might enjoy with one of my 1st grade dyslexic students actually using the word wall in my classroom. It gets to be very space consuming as the year goes on, but it is worth every inch of space you devote to it if used properly.

    Here's her finished story with illustration. Bear in mind that the story was written completely upside down, yet she copied the word wall stuff right side up.
    [​IMG]I love the picture she drew of me with the waist-high shoulders. I've found this is common with dyslexic kids, and believe it has to do with the way they view the world around them.
     
  17. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Aug 16, 2013

    All good points, but in third grade, they know all those common words and for the wide, wide majority their reading issues are all comprehension not word reading/fluency.
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Aug 16, 2013

    This made me nod in agreement. I believe this is often the case with elementary school homework and the "new" posting of standards.
     
  19. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 16, 2013

    How wonderful is that Steve! I can certainly see the value in the wordwall (I'm kindergarten) so I cannot speak for 3rd and up. While district requires it, I feel that it can still be utilized but we have to take it seriously as well.

    If we model how to use it in our writing (refer to it).
    Review it often.

    I know in the past I didn't place as much emphasis on it as I should so therefore my students didn't either. Now the teacher next door was awesome with her wordwall and it grew throughout the year, her students vocabulary was phenomenal and she was very studious with keeping it updated and reviewing it with her students.

    Steve how exciting to see the girl progress through her writing. It made my heart sing! I'm excited about my upcoming school year!
     
  20. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Aug 19, 2013

    Hi MZ,
    I think that for kids with extreme reading disabilities (dyslexia) constant review of the word-wall in K, 1 and 2 helps them immensely. The problem comes when they try to demonstrate what they've learned in their reading, writing and weekly Spelling Tests.

    When that same little girl you saw in the last video (and her 4 fellow PI peers) were forced to read, write and take spelling tests in the conventional way, they failed miserably. When they were encouraged to read, write and take Spelling Tests PI, they all did exceptionally well.

    Here she is writing that same story from the beginning. Her hand-writing is very neat for a 1st grader and she's having fun!:)

    Her weekly Spelling Tests went the same way. If she was allowed/encouraged to take her tests PI, she looked forward to them and almost always got 100%. If forced to do them conventionally her handwriting was impossible to read, her spelling was horrible and she cried.:(

    Steve

    PS - That video of Brianna writing her first story upside-down is probably my all-time favorite. At that point in my teaching career I looked forward to every single day....
     

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