Saturday, September 8, 2012

Word Wall #1

This post is going to be the beginning of three posts specifically on word walls. We know you all have them and we have seen them made and used in many different ways. After attending a conference a few years ago, we changed how we used our word wall and have never looked back! Here is the detailed version of how we use our word walls in our classrooms.

We used to do one huge word wall. However, this Pinterest inspired word wall gave us the idea to create two separate ones. Check this out:

Pinned Image

We love how easy this makes it for the little ones to use. Here is how we took this idea and made it ours:

Word Wall 1: sight words/trick words

Word Wall 2: spelling patterns & rules

Now that you have an idea of what they look like, let me explain how they are used. One word wall is for sight words. A few years ago our district decided that we were all going to use Frye's sight words. We broke sight words into three groupings: letters a-h, i-p, q-z. Each grouping of letters gets a different color (see below) and the words are always alphabetized. This makes the kiddos use their alphabetizing skills to find the word they are looking for. At first it takes some getting used to because the words always seem to keep moving around on the wall. However, after they get the hang of how to search, they have no problem finding the words they need to use. Also, when we hold writing conferences, we expect that all sight words will be spelled correctly. If we find one that isn't spelled correctly, it is easy to highlight the misspelled word with the color that matches the group of letters on the word wall. 

For example: If one of my students spelled the word 'use'.... 'uze'.... I would highlight the word in green since 'use' would be green on our word wall (see below) They would then use the word wall to correct it themselves. All I had to do was highlight!

This word wall is from the end of last year. The picture is better so you can see the color-coding as well. 

Last year however, we started implementing a new phonics/spelling program called Foundations. With this program they are given 'trick words'. Trick words are similar to sight words in the sense that they not only need to be able to read them, but spell them correctly. So we switched gears and put our trick words up instead of sight words.
The question we get a lot: "Do you cover up your trick words when it is time to take a spelling test?"
NO!! Believe it or not, but I personally am not a perfect speller ;) I am always using spell check or a dictionary. If I need to use my resources so often why shouldn't my students be able to use their resources as well? I mean, after all, isn't that what we want them to do every other time they get stuck on a word? Now be prepared, during the first few tests I always had someone announce "Hey! The word is right there!" But then they realized I wanted them to look at the word wall to help them spell it correctly. It became less and less amusing with each test we took and eventually they became pretty proficient at using our sight word side of the word wall without making an announcement each time! 

The second word wall is used for spelling patterns and rules. The first year we used the pattern word wall, we used the spelling patterns that accompanied our basal series. Last year we adopted the Foundations program and for each unit our students learn different rules for spelling certain types of rules. We now use these rules on our patterned word wall. (See the picture below)

With the Foundations program, the students also learn to 'mark' the patterns/rules they are learning about. The students can use the word wall to see how to correctly mark their words too.

We have found that the students use this word wall just as much as they do the sight word, word wall. They use this to help them identify word patterns in rules. For example, in second grade we spend a good amount of time discussing different syllable types. If they were struggling spelling the word 'brush', we could tell them it is a closed syllable that has a digraph at the end. They can find the digraph pattern and the closed syllable pattern on our word wall and use it to help them spell the unknown word. In one of our next subsequent posts, we will explain in detail the use of this word wall in relation to a basal spelling program.

It may seem as if this is a lot for those little ones to keep up with. At first, it does take some getting used to. But, we spend time at the beginning of each school year teaching the kiddos how to use each word wall. You would be surprised at how quickly they catch on to each word wall and how efficiently they use it.

Head back at the beginning of the week for another post on our word walls!   


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