How to Use the Word Wall: From a Student Point-of-View

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A short and sweet reminder, from a student point-of-view.

Step 1: You are writing something.

Step 2: You are about to write a word, and suddenly you think, “Wait! I know this word! It’s a word wall word!”

Step 3: You look up at the word wall. It is large enough to see easily from your writing spot.

Step 4: It takes you hardly any time at all to find the word. You know exactly where the word is, because your teacher plays quick, simple, word wall games with the class often.

Step 4: You look at the word and spell the whole word to yourself (i.e. b-e-c-a-u-s-e). Then, you say the whole word (“because”). This happens automatically because that is how you and your class practice the words all the time. Perhaps your teacher has taught you to “take a picture of it” with an imaginary camera to help you remember the word.

Step 5: You turn your eyes back to your writing. You spell and say the word to yourself again, and write the entire thing.

Step 6: You double-check your spelling against the word wall, and move on with your writing.

Tips for Teaching:

  1. A large word wall allows students to quickly access the high frequency words that are familiar from your word study instruction. No need to interrupt writing time to get up, or search through a desk, or booklet with separate pages.
  2.  Personal word walls can work the same way, with the added benefit of being up closer and differentiated to particular students.
  3. Spelling the entire word, then writing the entire word, and checking it will support remembering it for next time. Be on the lookout for students who copy the word, one letter at a time, without spelling the entire word fluently.

The aim is to teach high frequency words for fluency and automaticity – so that eventually these words require very little mental energy. This frees up all that great thinking for working on the craft and structure of the work.