Strategy

Phonemic Word Wall

Phonetic Word Wall, Orthographic Word Wall, Word Families

UDL 2.3

A Phonemic Word Wall is a bulletin board or chart displaying words that are categorized by phonemes (sounds) or vowel patterns. Phonemic Word Walls are used to support emerging readers in recognizing spelling patterns and building phonics skills (i.e., the connection between printed letters and sounds). Phonemic Word Walls are different from traditional Word Walls because words are sorted by phonemes (e.g., long-i, short-e, /sh/, etc.) instead of alphabetically. Within each phoneme category, words can be further grouped by specific spelling or vowel patterns. For example, a Word Wall could have a long-a category that includes the following subgroups: “ay” (e.g., way, say, day), “ai” (e.g., wait, rain), and “a_e” (e.g., late, cake). By increasing students’ awareness of the vowel and spelling patterns that create different sounds in words, Phonemic Word Walls improve students’ reading fluency and build spelling skills.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Flash Cards

Illustrated Letter Cards: Lowercase

A set of illustrated lowercase letter cards paired with real-life animals and objects. Letters are grouped in the order in which they can be taught to reduce confusion between similar looking and sounding letters. Included are blank cards to individualize or personalize letter cards.

Grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 · English Language Arts, Reading · 5 pages


Flash Cards

Illustrated Letter Cards: Uppercase

A set of illustrated uppercase letter cards paired with real-life animals and objects. Letters are grouped in the order in which they can be taught to reduce confusion between similar looking and sounding letters. Included are blank cards to individualize or personalize letter cards.

Grade K, 1, 2 · English Language Arts, Reading · 5 pages


Implementation Tips

Selecting Target Phonemes
Customize your Phonemic Word Wall based on the phonemes and spelling patterns you have explicitly taught your students. Selecting phonemes to teach depends on grade level and student needs (check out this [[http://www.dyslexia-reading-well.com/support-files/the-44-phonemes-of-english.pdf|list of common English phonemes]] for ideas). For example, if students are struggling with differentiating between digraphs, teach the /sh/, /th/, /ch/, /ph/ sounds. Regularly add new words to the wall as new phonemes and spelling patterns are taught.
Creating Your Word Wall
Ensure that the words displayed on the Phonemic Word Wall can be easily read by students (e.g., printed in large letters). Also, consider using pocket charts, magnets, or [[https://smallhumansthinkbig.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/img_3843.jpg?w=198&h=300|sticky notes]] when displaying words so that they can be easily rearranged and accessed by students.
Using Colors and Images
Use colors to distinguish phonemes and spelling patterns. For example, words within different sub-categories (e.g., “ay” vs. “ai” words for the long-a category) can be printed on different colored cards. The vowel pairs or target spelling pattern (e.g., sh, th, ght) can also be [[https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3e/1c/aa/3e1caa13d71f2e7064744d3d01fb790c.png|bolded]] or underlined within a word. Additionally, consider including [[https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UmJVB9ZW9Qk/VuYmxZuXaJI/AAAAAAAAC00/u105g1NjQukYs9zJL_bSFgnufwAcSTAYQ/s640/Pocket%2BChart%2BCenter%2B%25285%2529.JPG|images]] on your Word Wall to support emerging readers and visual learners.
Building Writing and Spelling Skills
Remind students to refer to the Phonemic Word Wall during independent writing tasks. Instead of spelling new words for students, prompt them to identify the sounds they hear and match them to the spelling patterns or phonemes displayed on the Word Wall.

Examples

Writing
As a warm-up activity each day, a teacher reviews the “sh” sound and students brainstorm words with this spelling pattern to add to the Phonemic Word Wall. At the end of the week, students form partnerships and write poems, tongue twisters, or short stories using as many “sh” words as possible. Each pair presents their writing to the class, and the teacher combines all the writing pieces to create a class book that students can refer to during writing tasks throughout the year.
Independent Reading
During a mini-lesson, a teacher introduces vowel patterns that often create the long-e sound (e.g., ee, ea, ey, e-e). The teacher then gives students sticky notes to record long-e words that they discover while reading independently. After reading for fifteen minutes, students post their long-e words on the Word Wall. The teacher allows student volunteers to group the words by spelling patterns, and leads the class in a discussion of what they notice about the posted words (e.g., Which vowel pattern occurs the most? Where is the “ey” pattern often found in a word?).
Centers
Before introducing literacy centers, a teacher reviews common digraphs (e.g., ph, ck, ng, wh) and adds new words for each of these groups to the Phonemic Word Wall. As students participate in centers, they engage in the following activities: 1) Word Sort: Students sort word cards with the target digraphs based on where the letter combinations appear in the word (e.g., beginning, middle, end). 2) Create Image Cards: Students draw images on index cards to represent words with these digraphs. 3) Word Hunt: Students read printed texts and highlight words containing digraphs.

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