TT #10 Literacy Strategy - Trent Hoefler

Instructional Focus and Grade Levels

Grade Levels: PreK-Grade 2, 3-5, 6-8, and English Learners



Content Area

Description of Word Walls

Word walls are collections of words posted in the classroom that students use for word-study activities and refer to when they're reading and writing. Word walls are displayed in large visible letters on a wall, bulletin board, or other display surface in a classroom. The words are divided into alphabetized sections. Both teachers and students write on the word wall interesting, confusing, or other important words from books they're reading and related to big ideas they're learning during thematic units.
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Why Use This Instructional Strategy

Word walls highlight the vocabulary words students are reading, writing, and learning. When students see these words repeatedly, read them over and over, and use them in their writing, they're more likely to learn what they mean and to read and spell them. Word walls provide a permanent model for high frequency words. They help students see patterns and relationships in words, thus building phonics and spelling skills. Word walls provide reference support for children during reading and writing activities.

How To Use This Instructional Strategy

1. Prepare the word wall. Teachers prepare a blank word wall in the classroom from sheets of construction paper or butcher paper, dividing it into 12 to 24 boxes and labeling the boxes with letters of the alphabet. Make words accessible by putting them where every student can see them.

2. Introduce the word wall. Teachers introduce the word wall and write several key words on it before beginning to read. Try to include words that children most commonly

use in their writing.

3. Add words to the word wall. Students suggest "important" words for the word wall as they're reading a book or participating in thematic unit activities. Students and the teacher write the words in the alphabetized blocks, making sure to write large enough so that most students can see them. If a word is misspelled, it's corrected because students will be using the word in various activities. Sometimes the teacher adds a small picture or writes a synonym for a difficult word, puts a box around the root word, or writes the plural form or other related words nearby.

4. Use the word wall. Teachers use the word wall for a variety of vocabulary activities, and students refer to the word wall when they're writing. Use the word wall daily to practice words, incorporating a variety of activities such as chanting, snapping, cheering, clapping, tracing, word guessing games as well as writing them. Use content-area material from the curriculum rather than randomly selected words. Word walls should be referred to often so students come to understand and see their relevance.

Word Cheers: A Word Wall Activity

When To Use This Instructional Strategy

Teachers use word walls during literature focus units and thematic units, and primary grade teachers also teach high-frequency words using word walls. They can be used before, during, and after reading. Word walls can also be used with any content area! Word walls can also be used on special occasions like Valentine's Day or Thanksgiving. The students can use the special occasion word walls as writing prompts. The words from the word wall can be used for different strategies such as quickwrites, alphabet books, word sorts, and tea party activities.