tense because I am not in the classroom this year.)
should be without an interactive word wall! The power
of an interactive word wall in the classroom is amazing.
The key to a successful word wall is the word, "interactive."
Students need to actively interact with the word wall.
Interaction includes cheers and chants for the new words
of the week, activities that expand the students' understanding
of how words work and the use of the word wall during
writing as a primary resource for spelling.
may have one main word wall and/or 2 or 3 smaller word
walls, each with a different focus. In my classroom
I had one main word wall and special smaller ones. The
smaller word walls (usually chart paper size) were used
for seasonal words, special vocabulary for a theme or
unit, and special word study (verbs, adjectives, contractions,
compound words, spelling rules....)
Main Word Wall
main word wall is large---8 feet wide and 6 feet tall.
The words build on the wall by 5 new words each week
throughout the school year. Words on the wall are written
about 2 inches tall with a black marker on colored construction
paper. They are cut out around the shape of the letters.
The wall needs to be reachable for the students. They
should be able to walk right up to the word wall, and
they should be able to touch each word with a pointer.
You can find
many resources for words to include on your word wall.
Some suggested lists are included in the links section
on this page, and there are many commercial books that
provide lists by grade level. The best resources for
word wall lists are free. They are your students and
your language arts curriculum.
I started the
school year by including the students' names on the
word wall. Each day we added one student's name until
all of the names were on the wall. We spent a lot of
time with the "name of the day," trying to
learn as much as we could about sounds and letter chunks.
We compared the new names to the names already on the
wall. For example, when Chelsey's name was added to
the word wall, we were able to spend time on the "ch"
sound. We then had a "live" (Chelsey) sample
of a sound that we needed to learn in first grade. From
this day on, every child trying to write a word with
the "ch" sound had an instant reference to
identify the letters needed to spell the sound. We compared
the y at the end of Chelsey's name with the y at the
end of Sammy. We looked at the y at the end of my name,
Gursky. In such a painless way, the students had their
first lesson about the y making the "e" sound
at the end of a word. When Justin's name was added to
the wall, we found two little words inside his name:
just and in. Oh boy, maybe finding little words or little
chunks of letters inside of words could help us learn
to read and spell! Of course, we had to take time to
do some rhyming with "just" and "in."
word wall with the names of your students helps build
interest and motivation for using the word wall. The
names actually provide a good base to begin word study
and the children have the opportunity to get to know
one another a little better, while the focus is on one
Once all of
the students' names are on the word wall, 5 words are
added each week. I introduced all 5 new words on Monday.
I usually placed all 5 words in a pocket chart before
the students arrived in class. The children always "checked
out" the new words in the pocket chart as they
came into the classroom. Most often, the children had
already figured out all of the new words before word
wall time in the class. This really helped add to discussion
and learning. My question to them was, "How did
you figure it out?" The sharing of the "how"
helps all students build strategies to decode words.
did I get the weekly words? I
used three main resources to determine which words would
be added to the word wall each week. They were: the
new vocabulary and spelling from our "core"
story of the week, basic sight words and the students'
writing. My main criteria was that each word added would
help the students learn to read and would be a valuable
resource for writing. That is why the students' writing
was such a key resource for me in selecting words for
the word wall. I found what they needed to learn in
the day to day writing that they were doing in class.
I had the children
sit in rows on the floor in front of the word wall.
Rows facilitated the children being able to get up and
move to the word wall or pocket chart for some of the
activities. Children brought their Word Wall notebook
and a pencil to the rug. We wrote words in the notebook
almost every day.
a simple weekly schedule:
Introduce the new words for the week. Chant
and cheer for each new word. (See links below). Teach
the teachable lessons from the new words. Look for chunks.
Compare new words to other words. Talk about sound patterns
in the word. Address words that break the rules...
Guide the children
through the writing of each new word into their Word
Wall notebooks. The teacher reads one word. The children
write it. Then the teacher spells the word aloud, one
letter at a time, while the children check their spelling
by putting a small dot under each letter as the teacher
spells aloud. Continue through the rest of the words.
The last activity
is to have a leader point to each word on the word wall,
with a pointer, as the class "reads" the entire
Friday: Chant and cheer for the new words and/or
Read the whole
wall. Have students turn their notebooks to the next
Do one of
the word study activities. (see links)
Word Walls You can create
special word walls for a particular focus. If you are
teaching children how to add interest to their writing
by using adjectives, a special word wall can contain
just interesting adjectives. As the class is reading
various books, adjectives can be added to the special
word wall. Ask the students to listen for great describing
words as you read a book to the class. Add only the
great ones to the special word wall.
special Word Walls:
ing to words (any rules)
Word Wall work is fun and
the benefit to students is high. Please give it a try
in your class. You will soon be convinced!
The School Bell
Word Wall: A word wall is
a systematically organized collection of words displayed
in large letters on a wall or other large display
place in the classroom. It is a tool to use, not just
Wall Lists k-3: These lists are ready to print
for your word wall. They are organized by grade level
and instructions are given for printing on different
colors of paper to assist students in finding just
the right word on the word wall. This is a great source
to get you started with word walls. Scroll down on
the page to find the lists.
and Cheer: Here you'll find tons of ideas to chant
and cheer for the new word wall words. Students really
enjoy the silly, active word cheers. Scroll down on
Wall Activities Our word wall is a list of sight
words that First Graders frequently use in their writing.
These words are introduced at the rate of 5 per week.
Word wall words often don't fit into "traditional"
spelling patterns. Many of them cannot be sounded
out phonetically. In our class, we call them
With Words ~ Links to other sites
they use: Words for
reading and writing: Cunningham, P. M. (1995). (Second
Edition). HarperCollins Publishers
Cunningham, Patricia M & Hall, Dorothy P.
Month-by-Month Reading and Writing
Month-by-Month Phonics for First Grade;
Month-by-Month Phonics for Second Grade;
Month-by-Month Phonics for Third Grade;
Month-by-Month Phonics for Upper Grades