Friday, July 27, 2012

Doing Word Walls and a Freebie!

Hi there! It's Farrah from Think Share Teach, here to share some ideas for improving spelling by using your word walls! Many of us HAVE word walls in the classroom, but do we DO word walls? Are they just pretty decorations on the wall that the students ignore glance at ocassionally, or a real resource that students use on a daily basis? In this post, I'll show you how to take your word wall from static to fantastic, plus give you some super-cute word wall cards I made!

There's basically only two rules for making your word wall a living, breathing resource in the classroom:

Use the word wall in a whole-class activity every day. 

Hold students accountable for spelling word wall words correctly.

This is a daily reminder for the kiddos to use the word wall, and it sends the message "Here is an important resource for you." But you may be thinking, "What am I supposed to do with it? WHEN am I supposed to fit this in?!" This post is for you. Here are some things I've done that worked for me:

How Much? 10 minutes or less

When? I schedule my literacy block using the Four Blocks framework, so I have 20-30 minutes each day for word work. When I scheduled using the Daily 5 framework, the word wall activities were one of my mini-lessons.

Which? You may use frequently misspelled words (there, their, they're), vocabulary, or pre-made sets of words. I plan on using some of my choice, and some of the words from Month by Month Phonics because my school purchased them for each teacher.

What? Every Monday when you add new words (4-6), chant them. Show the word and discuss its meaning. Next spell it, then have students say it and spell it aloud and write the word down in their journals or personal word walls. I like to have them chant the spelling three or four times and here's where it can get really fun. There are literally TONS of ways they can do this. Here's a great list of word wall chants. Each day choose 3 or 4 words (or more if there's time) to discuss, chant, and/or write, then do a short activity with the words.

  • Be a Mind Reader (my favorite activity): Choose one word that students guess through clues you give them. Each time you give a clue, they write down a word from the word wall (spelled correctly). The clues start out very general, then narrow down the choices. Here's an example for the word community:
    • It's a word on the word wall. (Students write a guess on their papers).
    • It is a singular, collective noun (Students rewrite their word, or revise and choose another word). 
    • It has more than three syllables (Students write their word again, or revise their guess and write another word). 
    • It has 9 letters (Students rewrite their word, or write a different word based on the clue). 
    • The last letter is a y (By now most should have it)
  • Be a Mind Reader v2: Similar to the activity above, but this time you choose five different words. Give one clue for each word. At the end, students who think they have the correct answers raise their hands and you check to see how got every word correct and spelled it correctly. I usually give them some little treat.
  • Wordo: This is just like bingo, except with words! You can read more about it in this post
  • Say, Spell, Cover, Write, Check: This is how I teach my students to learn their spelling words. It's strategy that is exactly what is says: Say a word, spell it, cover it, write it, then check! 
There are many, many more, but these three are a great place to start. Now, on to your freebies! I've made two sets of word wall labels to share with you:

The repetitious nature of chanting the spellings each day is a great way for students to internalize the spellings of those frequently confused words. I hold my students accountable for the spellings by making them rewrite any misspelled word wall word three times. I'd love to hear from you! Do you do a word wall? If so, what are your favorite activities to do with it?



Sarah said...

when I student taught, my cooperating teacher had a word wall in the back of the room, but never really utilized it, so I began chanting 5-6 words a day with the students and they really liked it!


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