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!
My word wall in my high school class comes from an activity that I call “5 más”. For each new set of vocabulary, students must list 5 more words that are not on our list but that would be useful to them. So, for clothing they may want to know how to say purse, high heels, etc.
They must write the Spanish word and draw a picture in their notebook of their 5 más words. I do allow English if it is something that cannot be drawn.
Then they make a flashcard to put on the wall. It must be colorful and bold enough to see from across the room. It only has a picture and the Spanish word on it most of the time. Hard to do with family…
To make sure that I do not get a lot of the same flashcards on the wall, they must write the word they want to share on the whiteboard before they make their card. If the word is already there they must choose a different word to make their flashcard. They make their flashcard and put it on the designated place on the wall.
I also will ask different classes to make their flashcard from different categories so that my wall can be organized and students are not clambering for a word because they are all already there. For example, for the food unit I have each class do a different meal. One class will do breakfast, another lunch, etc.
Sorry, all of the pictures are on my phone that is not working right now. I hope you are able to visualize through my explanation.
Thanks for sharing Penny! I love that students are doing the work. 🙂
Yes, part of our requirements is that the word wall is interactive. I am working on more ways to do that.
Wow! Please share as you get more ideas for that.
I can’t find Ms. Hahn’s download of high frequency words. I’ve written her, but know it’s a pain to send a copy individually. Any help?
The link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Brooke-Hahn-2967
Hola Kara! Thank you so much for featuring the link to my word wall. It was a lot of fun to create and my students reference it ALL the time. Sorry for not responding to each individual person so quickly (now I know how you and Megan must feel all the time!) but I decided to just open a TPT store to make it easy for everyone. Thank you again, I really appreciate it 🙂
Brooke – (a HUGE creative language class fan)
Thank you Brooke for sharing the word wall for free! By chance do you have a Spanish only version?? I would love to have that.
No problem! Unfortunately I don’t as of now, but I can go through and edit it and post one on TPT. I’ll work on that 🙂