Are you using word walls in your science classroom?
If not, chances are, you’re missing out on an excellent learning opportunity for your students.
Years ago, I had a principal who required all teachers have a word wall in their classroom. I wasn’t sure the value it would provide.
I can honestly say, that I added words for years, without referring to it or using the word wall in any way.
Boy did I miss out!
Fast forward about 10 years…
I can’t believe what a valuable asset word walls are in the science classroom!
In this post, I’m going to explain how I use my word wall as an interactive tool in my classroom and pass along some helpful tips you can use to help your students get the most out of the word wall.
What is a word wall?
A word wall is simply a list of important vocabulary words that you use in the classroom.
There are many ways to organize your word wall:
- by topic
- using images and definitions along with words
Your word wall can be as simple as designating a spot on the board where you add new vocabulary words.
I’ve found that word wall cards are the most effective, because students can move them around and manipulate them to facilitate learning.
Why are word walls important?
Science is a vocabulary rich subject.
Having these words posted inn the room helps students to use words in their writing and discussions.
Vocabulary word walls are another way to provide students with a visual cue for the vocabulary words they’re learning in the classroom.
Word walls are a great way to support students with disabilities and ELL students by providing exposure to new vocabulary words.
How do I make a word wall?
Choose a location in the classroom that’s easily visible where all students can see it.
I have a magnetic whiteboard in the front of the classroom that I use to display my word wall.
I use small pushpin magnets to post the words. Then students can manipulate them easily and I can move them around.
Print the words in bold, black letters so students can read the words from anywhere in the room.
I like to use colored cardstock and organize the words by in different colors by areas of study. The cardstock keeps the vocabulary words sturdy and then you can use them year after year!
For example, weather vocabulary words are blue, atmosphere words are yellow, moon phases are orange, etc.
That helps the students see commonalities and find the words more quickly when they can scan by topic.
When should I post the words?
Don’t add the entire year’s worth at once!
Begin the year with a blank word wall.
I like to have a section of the board (or a separate area in the front of the room) where I like to keep our current vocabulary words – just a few (3-5).
This is great for student recall and review – especially ELL and students with special needs.
As we move to a new topic, I like to move those words to the BIG (main) word wall. This will eventually have the entire year’s words on the board.
Pro tip: Magnets are one of the best word wall investments you’ll make!
Ideas for using word walls with your students in the classroom
- Challenge students to use a certain number of words as they write.
- 5 minutes left in class? Describe a word from the wall and see which student can identify the word fastest.
- Give a student a word to act out – charades style – and let the class guess.
- Sort words – ex: place the layers of the atmosphere in order
- Flyswatter game – Call out a definition and have students race to see who can “swat” the word fastest (hands or flyswatter).
Build independence with a personal word wall in science!
Have students keep track of the words as you add them on a “mini-word word wall” in their binder or folder.
This allows students to access the wall outside of the classroom – ex: during homework or group work in the hall.
Don’t recreate the word wall wheel!
Immerse your students in a vocabulary-rich environment with this editable word wall vocabulary template. This word wall template is an easy way to build a custom word wall in your classroom.
Don’t recreate the wheel, just type your vocabulary words in the PowerPoint template and print!
Also included in this vocabulary template is a personal word wall for students to complete and keep in their notebook for reference outside of the classroom!
Teachers like you said:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐I love this! Sometimes the premade word cards don’t have everything one might need. These are perfect! Now I will always have the words we are working on. Thank you!
Supplies to rock your word wall:
Here’s a few supplies that have made a huge difference in my science word wall.
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