Word Walls represent a specific type of instructional methodology that can be effectively utilized in elementary classroom to teach learners basic reading and writing skills. Word Walls are organized in a way to follow the specific curriculum requirements; or to close significant knowledge gaps; or as a usual tool of learning new words. Teachers may develop numerous “Word Wall” activities to follow the reading curriculum requirements and help young learners master the basic reading and writing skills. Word Walls Introduction
A Word Wall is a traditional and frequently used method of instruction. With the desire to facilitate the process of learning, and to ensure that students are able to achieve the learning objectives, Word Walls turn into a convenient form of delivering knowledge to younger students. Word Walls represent an extremely flexible approach to teaching, which can be easily adjusted to different learning environments; that is why it is critical that elementary school teachers understand how Word Walls can and should be used to teach young learners reading skills. Word Walls in elementary classroom
Word Walls represent a specific type of instructional methodology that can be effectively utilized in elementary classroom to teach learners basic reading and writing skills. “A Word Wall is an organized collection of words displayed in large letters on a classroom wall. The words on a Word Wall most often include words students encounter frequently in their reading and writing” (Callella & Samoiloff, 2001). Word Walls are organized in a way to follow the specific curriculum requirements; or to close significant knowledge gaps; or as a usual tool for learning new words.
On Word Walls, words can be organized in alphabetical order, or around a common topic that is familiar to learners, or may even have similar spelling. The teacher may prepare a Word Wall beforehand, or may add the words spontaneously, to satisfy the changing learning needs of elementary school students. It is essential that the teacher does not take Word Walls as a simple decoration, but is able to integrate Word Walls into specific instructional units.
Word Walls carry significant value to both students and teachers, being a simple, cost-effective, and flexible instructional solution that any type of learners can use to achieve specific learning objectives. I think that an elementary school teacher may start with putting student names on the Word Wall. It is important that students get used to seeing and reading the words they must know. The teacher may choose student names with similar spelling: James, John, Jack, Jason.
Student names may later be supplemented with their surnames or their personal characteristics: simple words like “good”, “bad”, “nice”, “kind”, or “happy” may add to the learners’ vocabulary and may also serve the basis for developing extensive and appropriate reading skills. Taking into account that “young learners are mostly visual learners” (Callella & Samoiloff, 2001), such Word Walls turn into an indispensable element of elementary instruction: “the Word Wall helps them [children] learn the names of letters, ABC order, and letter-sound relationships.
It provides extra exposure and challenge for students who are at many different skill and interest levels” (Callella & Samoiloff, 2001). Teachers may use Word Walls to develop separate types of “word-wall” activities, to enhance literacy skills, and to prepare elementary school students to more complex reading tasks. I plan to start my reading lesson with identifying five words children want to see on the Word Wall. Magnetic surface will be a very convenient solution that will help change words, word combinations, and build different word structures on the Word Wall.
Five would be a sufficient amount to guarantee that children are not confused and that they are constantly involved into close interaction with words. Children will be encouraged to build a set of associations around each word that is displayed on the Word Wall. When the words are chosen, and the associations are built, I will leave the Word Wall untouched until children get used to the visual image and sounding of the chosen words. This process may take several days, and then elementary students will gradually move to building sentences and looking for substitutes for the words on the Word Wall.
Callella & Samoiloff (2001) suggest that “teachers may use Word Walls for displaying words that can be substituted for more frequently used words’, but before this substitution takes place, the students will need to learn how they can build sentences with the words they already know and understand. As soon as students master sentence-building skills, they may pass over to the next stage of instruction, where simple words will be replaced with more complicated substitutes, and the described “word-wall” activity will start from the very beginning: identifying words, developing associations, building sentences.
In my view, Word Walls should be constantly used in elementary classroom. With Word Walls, teachers may develop various activities that will follow the reading curriculum requirements and will help young learners master the basic reading and writing skills. A Word Wall may include the most problematic and frequently misspelled words; or words on the Word Wall may cover special content areas. The choice depends on the specific learning objectives and the problems students encounter in the process of reading.
The use of Word Walls is not limited to literacy or reading classes; in history, economics, mathematics, or science Word Walls can be effectively used to help elementary students learn scientific terminology. “The key to success with Word Walls is that you need to refer to them often so students get in the habit of using the wall in their assignments” (Callella & Samoiloff, 2001). Each misspelled word can be immediately added to the Word Wall.
In this way, young learners get used to the Word Wall as the element that will accompany them through all grades and will serve a simple instrument of learning to read. Word Walls turn words into live objects that produce associations and generate emotions. As a result, students who are familiar with the benefits and opportunities of Word Walls have substantial advantage over those that lack Word Wall resources in their classrooms. Conclusion Word Walls offer unlimited instructional opportunities.
Word Walls can be effectively utilized in any type of elementary class. Word Walls are critically important for teaching basic reading and literacy skills, but they can also be used in other teaching areas, including mathematics and science. Word Walls are easily integrated into different types of instructional units and offer a flexible approach to reading in elementary school.
References Callella, T. & Samoiloff, S. (2001). Making your Word Wall more interactive. Creative Teaching Press.
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