A past principal asked us to have a word wall up for each unit. My mind was racing. Isn’t that an elementary thing? Do you know how long it takes to make a bulletin board?? And now for each unit! We learn SO much vocabulary, so which words do I pick? How will I keep up? And it needs to be visually appealing too. I began the search for something that would work, and eventually all my negative feelings turned to love!
In the past, I used the board for whatever unit we were doing, but displaying the cognate practice sheets the phrases of the week or some function words was the closest I had ever done that resembled a word wall. It was ok, but I needed something more useful.
I had already put up some string and pins (inspired by Barbara Knox!). I found some large paper stashed in the art room. This paper was nice because they went up and down easily. I had been focusing on categorizing vocabulary, so I continued that. Next class, students were grouped up and each group got a paper, a category, a computer to look for images for the non-artists and we quickly discussed the new unit goals. They used their notes and dictionaries to pull words they wanted to know to achieve the goals. I was impressed with the words they choose. As we learned more words, they would go back and add more. Overall, I like how the categories gave it a more organized look and the students could easily find words they needed.
In another classroom, I also wanted to double-up the usefulness of my proficiency wall, I mean proficiency windows. (Read Bring the Rubric to LIFE to see Megan’s and Profiency-based Data Wall for my original version). I sorted high-frequency and function words from the 100 word list by proficiency level and wrote them on Post-its. I did not add pictures nor translations on purpose. I created this to be a reference, but only if they already knew the word. I had their examples from our first proficiency activity and replaced them with student work as the year progressed.
Check out Señora Hahn’s High-Frequency Word wall. Super cute and a free download!
I’ve also added a free download of the words above sorted by proficiency level as best as I could. I’m sure you will want to move some around to fit your class.
Sometimes I ran out of room on the walls and I had a new set of words. In this example, they were from a more traditional list intended to enrich their vocabulary, and I wanted a way for them to interact with them more. I set up these food categories on an extra table and they could practice matching the food to the words in the right category. And the “Interactive Word Table” was created. This was a nice “I’m finished early” activity where they would race against someone or just time each other. I should have put a “Leaderboard” sheet for them to record their best. Next time!
So whether it’s a wall, window, table, cart or notebook, there are many ways to make a word wall work.
How do you display word walls in your language class? I would love to see more examples!