Thursday, August 4, 2011

Word Walls - Setting Up the Classroom Series

This post is part of my Setting Up Your Classroom Series.

Regardless of your grade level, it is so important to create a print-rich environment. Dedicating a space to a word wall is wonderful. However, in order for it to be valuable there are a few things to take into consideration.

What kinds of words will you display?
What is your goal in including it in your classroom?
How will you make sure it's being utilized?

  • Currently, I have a word wall for high-frequency/often misspelled words. I also have a word wall for math vocabulary and use chart papers to display content words for science and social studies. I found this worked best for my children.
  • I always loved using a magnetic white board for my word wall. I could write words on and erase them when needed.
  • In my humble opinion, I feel it is best to distinguish the different sections of your word wall.
  • I have found the best way to section off a word wall is with electrical tape. It's bold and neat and cheap and easy. I've also used different color papers.
  • The easiest way to attach the tape is by drawing the lines onto the background with a pencil (or dry erase marker if you're using a white board) and a ruler. Adhere the tape directly on top. If you are not attaching it to a whiteboard, I would add some staples to hold it up well.
  • Make the words clear and easy to read from afar.
  • Try to display your word wall at the students' eye level.
  • Fight the urge to display all of the words before the students even arrive for the new year. Add them slowly with the students. If you feel the need to hang something on it then use the students' names.
  • Develop activities that require the students to access the word wall and learn to use it as a resource.
The above word wall is from a coworkers classroom. See how the electrical tape makes it look so organized?
The board above is from my classroom last year when I did the Jungle Theme. I used double-mounted papers and animal print stickers. I wrote the words directly onto the cards.

It does not get any cooler than Cara Carroll's Corner Word Wall.

The next three images are from First Grade Fabulous Fish. I think portable word walls are a great idea.

(view source)

(View more pictures of this classroom here: source)

For more ideas and pictures to help organize and manage your classroom, please check out my book: The Clutter-Free Guide to Classroom Organization and Management by clickinghere.
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  1. Just wondering if anyone has ever used the portable word walls that students keep in their desks? Due to limited bb space in our classrooms, the consultant hired by our district is encouraging us to abandon our word wall and to put up a focus wall instead. I can't bring myself to abandon it completely. Any thoughts would b great.

  2. THanks for all the ideas! Love having a word wall as a whole class reference. We play games to learn them and I can always refer them to the wall!

  3. What does everyone do when you run out of space for new words? Do you take down old words so you can add new ones?


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