"One forgets words as one forgets names.
One's vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die."
-- Evelyn Waugh
I used to think that word walls were just for little kids to learn the alphabet and how to spell basic sight words. I thought they were just a prop that students could look at when they needed a little extra support with their writing. Now I know better!
|A good way to teach vocabulary; source: The ESL Nexus|
The first word wall I had, although I didn’t call it that because it didn’t conform to my idea of what a word wall should look like, was a bulletin board display of commonly-used words on standardized tests. My principal had given us teachers a list of the words during a grade-level meeting. I knew that many of the words were new to my ELLs and that they needed to know what they meant. There were over 30 words in all and they encompassed all four core academic subjects. I just printed out the words on regular 8.5” x 11” blank white paper and stapled them to the bulletin board in the back of my room. Then, whenever one of the words came up during a lesson, I pointed it out on the board and spent a couple minutes discussing it with the students.
|Test-taking word wall; source: The ESL Nexus|
|Academic word walls for Grades 5 - 8; source: The ESL Nexus|
|Click HERE for more info about this resource; source: The ESL Nexus|
In hindsight, I didn’t utilize my word walls to their greatest potential. I could have had my students do all kinds of activities with them: draw pictures to illustrate the words, write their own definitions of the words, use the words in pieces of writing, create games with the words, and make dictionaries with the words. Please share how you use word walls with your students in the Comments below.
September's linky party (starting a little early, I know) is devoted to word walls, a method of instruction that seems especially appropriate for the start of a new school year.