I devote a fair amount of wall space in my classroom to a word wall. I know that not all teachers do this, and I've read plenty of criticisms in the past about why word walls are impractical (too large and overwhelming to students, not used by students, etc.). But I want to share how I use a word wall in my classroom to counter some of those criticisms.
At the beginning of the year, I put up a large empty word wall.
Each week, on a separate area of our whiteboard, I'll introduce some content-area vocabulary on word wall cards that are color-coded by subject. For some -- like the math vocabulary -- I have QR codes linked to each word so that students can look up the definitions. Others are just the word. We'll do a variety of vocabulary-related activities throughout the week, and then once the words are learned, we'll move them to the big wall. Here's an example of that with some of our math vocabulary words (green & blue background with QR codes) and an International Baccalaureate Learner Profile Trait (green and polka dotted background).
The second way that I use the wall, however, is even more important. We use it as a source of constant review throughout the day. During many of our transitions, I'll choose a word, share the definition or a related concept, and the students have to use the wall to figure out what word I'm referring to. I'll have students do this to earn spots in line, transition to get materials, or as a sponge as we wait for other teachers to arrive, etc. As students get better with this routine, I have them start to give the clues to each other so that they're remembering the vocabulary and using it regularly. I hardly ever do test prep throughout the year, and by constantly revisiting these words, I don't think we need to. The word wall is a great visual reminder to me about the words they need to know and the concepts we've talked about.
Don't get me wrong. I think there's a lot of value to having personal word walls and smaller, focused word walls for particular units. But in the best of worlds, I think kids benefit from both.
I've spent a lot of time working on creating durable word cards for my word wall this year, and on Monday and Tuesday, all of my word wall sets at TpT will be 28% off with the code CMT12.
These card sets are normally priced between $3 - $8, and I have them available for the following topics:
Math - All Common Core aligned and embedded with QR codes linked to the definitions:
Do you have a Word Wall in your classroom? I'd love to hear how you use it in the comments section!
Have a great weekend!