Strategy

Word Wall

High-Frequency Word Wall

UDL 2.1 UDL 2.4

A Word Wall is a bulletin board or chart listing high-frequency words (e.g., the, is, because, what, was) or content-specific words (e.g., add, subtract, multiply, divide) in alphabetical order. Instead of simply being a static display of words, Word Walls are intended to grow throughout a unit or year as the teacher adds new words that are introduced during instruction. Word Walls promote vocabulary development and reading fluency, by providing students with repeated exposure to key terms that are frequently found in texts or utilized in academic study. Word Walls also serve as a visual reference for students and can be used to reinforce specific skills and support reading and writing activities.

Implementation Tips

Ongoing and Customized
Customize your Word Wall based on student needs and learning goals. For example, a teacher may choose to display grade-level words that their class is struggling with reading or spelling. A teacher can also select key terms related to a unit of study. Although Word Walls should be constantly growing, it is also important that each word is explicitly taught (e.g., definition, pronunciation, spelling, etc.) before it is added to the wall.
Accessibility
Ensure that Word Walls are visible and that students have easy access to them. Words should be printed using large letters that can be seen from a distance. Also, consider writing words on sticky notes or attaching them to magnetic strips so that students can take a specific word to their seat when using it for spelling.
Images
Include images and symbols on Word Walls to support visual learners. For example, next to the word “fraction” a teacher might attach an image of a pie divided into several slices. Students can also be invited to post their own drawings illustrating the terms.
Activities with Word Walls
Encourage students to interact with the Word Wall in a variety of ways. Students can make up songs that include the words, play games (“I spy a word that starts with…”, Bingo, etc), and practice spelling words with clay or yarn.
High-Frequency Words
Support emerging readers by creating a Word Wall focused on high-frequency or sight words. Check out these sites for sample word lists:
[[http://www.sightwords.com/sight-words/dolch/#lists|Dolch Sight Words List]]
[[http://www.k12reader.com/subject/vocabulary/fry-words/|1,000 High Frequency Words]]
[[http://www.wisd.org/users/0001/docs/GVC/WISD%20High%20Frequency%20Word%20Lists%20by%20Grade%20Level.pdf|High-Frequency Word Lists by Grade Level]]

Examples

Teaching High-Frequency Words
Before a read aloud, the teacher previews several high-frequency words found in the text (e.g., you, they, are). The teacher displays each word on a card, says it aloud, and asks students to repeat it. As the teacher reads the story, students show a “thumbs up” sign each time one of the high-frequency words is read. After reading the story, the teacher posts the new words on the Word Wall and gives students a printed list of the words. As students read independently, the teacher encourages them to circle the high-frequency words they encounter in their books.
Reviewing Key Concepts and Vocabulary
During a biology unit, a science teacher creates a Word Wall highlighting key terms (e.g., cell, virus, tissue, organ, etc.). At the end of the unit, students form partnerships and each pair selects two or three words from the Word Wall. Students then create posters that include a statement connecting their selected words (e.g., Viruses attack cells) and an illustration of the concept. When done, the posters are displayed around the room and students participate in a Gallery Walk to view each other’s work and review key terms.
Highlighting Spelling Patterns
A teacher uses a Word Wall during a warm-up activity to reinforce phonics and spelling skills. The teacher begins by asking, “Who can find a word that begins with the “th” sound?” After the student finds an appropriate word, the teacher asks for other volunteers to point out additional words that begin with the same sound. The teacher then asks, “What do you notice about all these words?” and leads the class in a discussion of the /th/ spelling pattern. On other occasions, the teacher asks students to find rhyming words or words that have a certain number of syllables.

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