Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Strategy of the Week: Personal Word Walls

As teachers, we know that every student is different with different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, we know that when it comes to acquiring vocabulary, especially academic vocabulary, every student has different needs. Some need help understanding the meanings of academic words, others need help using them correctly in context, and some students need practice with words longer than others.

With all this in mind, when I was in the classroom, I helped students create their personal word walls. The idea was for them to have their own personal word wall for each subject that they could carry with them all the time. The great thing about personal word walls is that they can be differentiated for students at different levels.

So, how does one construct these personal word walls? All you need is two manilla file folders, a three hole punch, and some sticky notes. Slip one folder right inside the other, and punch your holes. I let the kids decorate the outside, and then on the inside, we label the pages with the subjects they study at school. When it is time to add a new word, kids take three sticky notes.  For newcomers, a picture, word, and simple sentence frame is often sufficient. For more advanced learners, the word, a definition, and a sentence frame or example sentence is great.

Put the sticky notes on the correct subject page, and voila- word wall. The kids can even use the holes punched to keep it inside their binder so that they always have it. Since the ids are adding the words themselves, it gives them practice with the words and ownership of their word wall. Here are some photos:

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