I love word walls.
Word walls are definitely not just for elementary schools and as the popularity of word walls grow so do the subjects and grade level willing to utilize them.
And why not?
Word walls are an incredibly effective way to introduce your students to important vocabulary and create interesting lesson plans that engages your students.
Each school year students learn thousands of new words in a variety of subjects. In order for students to have meaningful interactions with those new words that ensures they fully understand them, word walls need to be easy to use and interactive.
When I say easy to use, first and foremost I mean for you, the teacher. If it isn’t easy, then why would you use a word wall? Keep them effortless because they should be changed often. A word wall will not last an entire school year. Neither will it last a semester.
Some word walls will last a few days while others will last a couple weeks because they are part of a large unit lesson. Regardless, you will have to change the wall many times and need something that takes little time.
The first way to cut back on time spent changing your word walls is to make a reusable word wall.
Erasable is the easiest.
With an erasable word wall you can change your entire word wall to a new one in a matter of one minute. That is time saved for something else. That quick turn over makes it possible to only have one word wall but teach several different subjects. That is especially helpful for small classrooms where wall space is precious. Use your time wisely.
There are many ways to make an erasable word wall but my favorite is laminate. Extremely light weight, easy to move around, and of course erasable – can’t beat it. (For free instructions visit my teacher store at www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/integrated-social-studies.)
The second part is to make the word wall magnetic. Many teachers have a magnetic white board (or magnetic chalkboard) so why not make those laminated word walls magnetic?
Suddenly, your word wall is interactive. If students are not interacting with the word wall, then you are missing out on valuable learning time.
My word wall was placed on the front white board and was only a short reach away. If I was talking about a word, I pointed to it or grabbed it off the wall. Depending on what I was doing I could grab a few words, slap them on the front board, and interact with them.
But because I interacted with the word, students felt free to interact with the word wall too. There were many times during down time or in-between classes students would play with the word wall. They would quiz each other. They would grab the word and bring it to me to discuss or ask questions. They alphabetized it. They categorized it.
The interaction they had with the word wall made it more likely that they would remember the words.
As their interaction grew, I wrote more lessons that forced interaction. I began to create partner work and group work based around the word wall. I created games using the word wall.
But my favorite part of the word wall was I could change it as I wanted/needed. There were so many times that I tweaked the wall mid-lesson because I realized I wrote the wrong word or realized students knew a word so it was advantageous to put up a new word. One second to erase, two seconds to write and the wall was corrected. Couldn’t do that with permanently placed word walls.
I also liked that if I needed to shake things up I could erase a few placards and invent a game or lesson on the spot and have the students write on the placards.
A few times, when I had run out of hall passes, I quickly erased a word and made a temporary hall pass. When the student return I rewrote the vocabulary word and placed it back on the wall.
Make your classroom work for you.