Saturday, February 1, 2014

Word Walls Across the Grades

Before I get started with all the goodies, let me introduce myself... I am Terri from Terri's Teaching Treasures.
This is my 9th year teaching and I have taught every grade from 1-7 and had a part-time contract in Learning Assistance. I definitely feel at home in a grade 4 or 5 class but there are many perks to each grade I have taught.

Currently, I am teaching a lively group of grade 2/3s at a school close to my home (yay I save on gas!!!). This is my third time teaching at this particular school but this time there are a bunch of new-to-me faces. I love getting to know new coworkers and collaborating with them to make the school environment fun and engaging. They quickly saw that I am a little obsessed with having my classroom look put together (my son calls it a sickness) and that I like to make things look inviting. Everything has to be color coordinated (shhh don't tell anyone but I actually turned down some plastic bins because they didn't match my classroom colors..shhhh). In case you are wondering here are a couple pictures of my overly coordinated classroom. Yup even my water bottle matches my colors :)

Since I have been in many different grades I have had to adapt how I use word walls in my classroom. Since I have pictures (another obsession... I take pictures of EVERYTHING) of both of the word wall formats I use I thought I would write my first blog post here about them.

The first type of word wall here is what I use when I am in a primary classroom. It is your typical "display the alphabet and add high frequency words and student names above the alphabet" type of word wall. I find that in my school district the primary classrooms  tend have more space and therefore more wall space for a word wall. I have not had the same word wall design/colors yet as I always change it to match my theme. This year I have gone with a bold color theme to match my book baskets and my word wall labels had to match so I created simple turquoise and lime green labels. If you are looking for this type of word wall and you like the colors just click here to get them for free!!!

When I was working in intermediate grades, I didn't think it would work having your typical word wall for two reasons. 
1) There is less space and more words students use.
2) Students may feel this is babyish.
I am not sure how I thought of this idea but I wanted a way for student to use the proper spelling of words without constantly asking my for it (you can only spell "awesome" so many times for students) and we had a lack of dictionaries for them to use. This is when my word wall was transformed. I have an index card box with index cards labelled with the alphabet. One letter per card. When a student asks for a word to be spelled they have to help me figure it out and it gets written on the appropriate index card. Before students can ask me for a word they must check the box (finding the right card) and only if the word is not on the index card will I write it on it. At the beginning of the year there are a lot of words being written on the cards but later on they have written a lot of the words they frequently use. It is great getting through an entire writing block and not having anyone ask how to spell a word.
I think this approach allows students to be more independent writers and it gives them continual practice at putting letters in alphabetical order as the cards are store alphabetically.
Here is a bonus tip on how to make writing times more successful. I post weekly writing prompts in my classroom in order to give students thinking time about a writing topic. I know that I have a hard time writing on the spot and have way more ideas if I have time to think about what I am writing about. They have notebooks they can jot down ideas throughout the week and then when it is time to focus on the writing topic they have already done a great deal of their brainstorming!
Well that is it for now. I am super excited to be apart of this wonderful blog and I cannot wait until I get to post again next month!!!


  1. I like the portable word wall idea! I also like to have everything matching and will turn down things if they don't match. :)