Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Word about Word Walls

Last year I did a "Word Wall Experiment". I went against all I had been taught about word walls (put the word on the wall as it is taught, about 5 words a week) and put all the high frequency words on the wall at the beginning of the year. The goal was to "color code" the words so when a student asked how to spell a word, I was able to say "under the letter Aa-blue card" and he/she would be able to find the word and spell it correctly. Also, we would be able to read all the high frequency words everyday. The more they were exposed to the word would (maybe) help them to read the word even before it was introduced during a lesson. You can read more about the experiment here.

I discovered this:
1. Having all the words on the word wall is overwhelming. Most of the students are not able to read the words. Putting up a few words at a time and attaching some meaning to the word (using it in context, etc.) makes it more likely to be remembered.

2. We need to "read" the word wall everyday. I failed miserably with this. I am very procedural and reading the word wall needs to be listed in the schedule everyday. The word wall can become another display that the students do not even bother to look at if it is not used the correct way.

3. The students really did not understand the color coding system until about March. Those students who were able to catch on earlier would help those students by showing the word on the word wall using the color coding system.

These are the changes I plan to make for next year:

1. The word wall will be empty. I will add student names with a photo first and only the high frequency words for each week. Is it possible to take words off the word wall after a certain amount of time, or do the words need to stay up all year?

2. I plan to use the word wall as a teaching tool and not just a display. It will have a scheduled time.

3. My word wall will still be color coded. This will be a little tricky because I will be adding words and they will not be listed in alphabetical order. 

4. Make student offices for writers workshop. List all the words and color code them.

I have made a couple of word walls in my TpT store. I added 2 (bright colors and primary colors) just for Journeys words. In the Journeys sets there are cards that are already made with the words typed in and editable cards are also included in case you have other words that you want to put on your word wall.


  1. I've been wondering about my word wall as well. Mine is up high on the wall and just isn't working out. Love the ideas with color coding. I'll have to check out your word wall packets, our district is moving to Journeys this year.

  2. Great post. I like the way that you color coded your word wall. I'm thinking of moving to individual word walls next year but we'll see.
    ✰ Stacy

    Simpson Superstars


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