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Word Walls for Upper Grades

Compiled By: kristen_teach

Word Wall information for Upper Grades. *Word Walls for spelling *Word Walls for building vocabulary *Word Walls for Content *How to put them up (including portable word walls) *Activities to do with the word walls

Word Walls
Posted by: Mariely

I actually posted a reply to the K-3 Word Wall discussion. To put it simply, in my district doing a Word Wall is a non-negotiable part of instruction. All of the elementary school teachers need to have a word wall and make sure students are interacting with it on a daily basis. Students interact with the Word Wall through simple and short daily activities. I'm attaching two documents that give more information on word walls. You can view them and learn more about word walls.

I will also be teaching fourth grade in the fall. I plan on doing and using a word wall. I organize my word wall by Parts of Speech. The words I include in my word wall are usually Tier-2 words (as described by Beck & McKeown in Bringing Words to Life). If I happen to have Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in my class, I will also need to make sure I include some high-frequency words as needed. I hope this information helps. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to post them. Take care!

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One more suggestion
Posted by: nzkiwi

Month by Month Phonics for the Upper Grades is a good resource. I use a good chunk of it with my planning. For more word wall info. I also recommend A Teachers Guide to Big Blocks and/or Modifying Four Blocks for the Upper Grades -- they both contain a lot of good word work activities that you can do, along with the word wall and even additional information about how the word wall can connect into all the other areas of language arts.

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word walls
Posted by: dolmansaxlil

I put up a word wall in my grade 7/8 classroom! There are many uses for them. First of all, I use them for the "no excuse" words - that is, the words that are difficult to spell but that they use a lot (homonyms are particularly high on that list). They are on the wall, with "hints" as to which word to use where. My theory on it is that they'll only learn to use the correct term if they practice it correctly - and many of them need that extra reminder. I also use it for my "Nifty Thrifty Fifty" from Month by Month Phonics for the Upper Grades.

I also use it for words in the content areas. So I'll have math, geography and history terms up on my wall as well. I colour code the words by subject - so the frequently misspelled words are on one colour, nifty thrifty 50 on one, geo terms on one, history terms on one, etc.

For the content areas, I put short definitions beside the word on the card, so if a kid can't remember what the term means, or which term to use, they go up to the wall and use the definition.

For next year, I'm considering making my Word Wall a little more interactive, in that it'll be stuck up with velcro so the kids can take down the words to check stuff on the back or, for some of my special ed kids who have difficulty transferring words to paper, taking them to their seat. If I do that, then I'll put the definitions on the backs of the cards.

I play a lot of word wall games with my kids too. Their favourite is Be a Mind Reader. Basically, they're given clues and with each new clue they write down a new word (if anyone wants the full instructions, I'll post them). They LOVE this game, and it's a great way to fill those 5 minute dead spots.

Our Ministry set up shop in a school in our board for the past three years - and one of the things that they require in all rooms - K-12 - is a word wall.

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Try a few ideas until....
Posted by: grade4curlyQ

It seems like if you try a few ideas/approaches each year, you will find your way of using a word wall that works for you.

One of my walls has the '200 most frequently misspelled words' for obvious reasons and in large print.

I prefer to group the content area words for association recall. This also includes the vocabulary words for reading stories (when we do use the reading series) as well as SS & Science topics. You can type these in 'word' and in the font size area type in 100 or higher point font. Make your list appear alphabetically (each story having its own list). Print these out, glue them to card stock or construction paper (vertical - each word below one another) with the name of the story at the bottom and next year if you use that story, you'll have the words ready to put up on a board or wall in one - 2 foot long laminated sheet. If it sounds confusing and you'd like more explanation, I'd be happy to clarify ;)

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word wall
Posted by: nzkiwi

I teach 6th grade, I have 2 word walls in my classroom:

The first is for frequently misspelled words. When I look at student writing I keep a running list of words I see frequently misspelled, and then every Monday I add 3-4 new words to our wall from that list. Those word wall words I hold them accountable for spelling correctly in all their writing.

Then the second is a Nifty Thrifty Fifty word wall. I got the idea from Phonics in the Upper Grades (a FourBlocks resource book), where the 50 words that ultimately get posted by the end of the year, cover the most used prefixes, suffixes and spelling changes in English words. We add a couple words each week, and when each gets added we talk about how the prefix or suffix is used, what it means, etc.

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Vocabulary Wall
Posted by: luvsteaching

I use a "vocabulary" wall rather than a "word" wall. Once new words are added, I challenge the students to find the meaning and use it throughout the day in their converstaion. Once a week, we go over the words on the wall and discuss the part of speech, origin, and the use of the word in day-to-day conversation.

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Word Wall
Posted by: Melissa Mosca

I teach fourth grade and my student use our classroom word wall often. I start with just the letters of the alpahbet. As we encounter new words, I add them. I keep a basket of notecards, cut in half, near the board. I write synonymns/anytomns and/or the defintion on the back of each word. I put the words up with fun-tack...then the kids can always check the meaning.

Prior to making my own, I used a store bought word wall. THe children did not utilize the words because they were meaningless to them. I find the new method works so much better.
Hope this helps!

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State Standards ~ of course!
Posted by: pg

I have key words from our state standards posted.

When we discuss the standard that we're working on, we usually single out those words. :)

I don't know how helpful it is to the kids ~ but, somehow, it feels very right. :D

So it stays! :D:D

I also post vocabulary words.

Good luck! :)


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Word wall
Posted by: Bear

I am required to have a word wall and I teach 5th grade. Last year was the first year it was required and I made it my student's board. When students heard or saw a word that they did not recognize they would put it on our board, in their own handwriting (I covered a bulletin board with butcher paper, it was not the neatest board, but it belonged to the students--they would actually remind me that it was their job to put up the words if I started to do it). This worked very well. Because I teach all subject matter the board was not subject specific; however, as the year progressed and more words were added my students would point them out when we encountered them again, in any subject area. They also seemed to remember what the words meant. As far as assigned voc. or spelling words go, the students choose certain words for us to include. I dreaded doing this at first, but it turned out to be beneficial.

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For everything
Posted by: Lori2006

I really never received direct instruction of what the proper ways of using word walls I made up my own rules. I use it for every subject. I use index cards, and glue them on different color construction paper (one color per subject). I use them mostly as a reference board - for example, for Math words, I write the word, write a description (provided by the students) and draw a picture. When the wall gets "crowded" I will take the words from the beginning of the year and "quiz" the students orally as to their meaning and if we are all in agreement that they no longer need the word up on the wall, it comes down and gets put in a box. The rule is, as long as one person still needs it for reference, it stays up. Anyone can visit the "retired box" throughout the rest of the year.
As for "high frequency list" for their writing, I make posters on chart tablet paper with student suggestions. Like "color words," "scent words," etc.

Don't know if this is what you had in mind...but thanks - it really got me thinking about how I am going to use my word wall this year too.

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Word Wall
Posted by: PATeacher45

Hi! I just teach math, but I do use a word wall for my 4th/5th grade math students. I get the words from the vocabulary they are required to know for our state math test. I also include other math words I think it is important for them to see daily. I put the words up as we discuss them. I organize the words into the 5 NCTM math categories (numbers and operations, geometry, algegra, measurement & data analysis and probability) and put each category on a different color word strip. The words are also grouped by letter.

I also make index cards with the definitions of words on the word wall. I pull out the cards whenever we have a few minutes to spare in class and quiz the kids. The students see the words everyday, use the word wall as a reference when writing, and it's a great way to review vocabulary.

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word wall
Posted by: SusanTeach

When I taught 4th, I used a word wall but I used it differently than I do with 3rd grade. The emphasis in that grade was on writing, so I had "transition words" on my word wall. I didn't want them using the words "First, Next, and Last" for their transition words. That area had words like "To Begin with, After that, Finally, ..."). I also had another area with "Wow" words so they could replace overused words (like "said") with better words (like "shouted, mumbled, stated,....").

I put them up at the beginning of the year, and they stayed up all year. I don't like to add to the board throughout the year because I never tend to keep up with it! :o

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Word Wall
Posted by: Jennifer in OK

My theme is stars. So I have a clear shower curtain hanging on my wall for my word wall. I have 4 different colors of stars I use - red for reading, green for SS, blue for science, and purple for math. I put up vocabulary words for the unit/chapters we are working on during that time. I interchange the words b-weekly or monthly. This is something I also use as a center where they practice the words with a partner.

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Posted by: Nat

here are some photos...

the word wall is from the four blocks...and yes, basically what's on the word wall...
there is a photo with the questions... I'll see if I still have the file on my pc... if so I can send it off to you. same with the 6 trait... can't remember where I got that... online somewhere...


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Posted by: Grade4Teach

Would anyone be willing to share these lists I think we could come up with a great set of resources to work with.

Here is a list of commonly misspelled words. It is not real pretty or anything but you can use it as a guide to help you make on that suits your needs.

I have a list of sense words but it is an excel file. When I fix it up, I will post it since I can't post the excel file.

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Portable Word Walls
Posted by: kristen_teach

First- what will be the purpose of your word wall? Do you want just the word up for reference when writing/ talking about the subject? Or do you want pictures to help the def. "stick" in the students' minds?

I just use a LARGE pocket chart and sentence strips for my word wall. My purpose is just to have the words for reference.

Since your kids don't just stay in your room, you may want to think about portable word walls. Use file folders for each student.

If you want to use visuals, you can use google images or have students draw the picture. I have had students "draw the word". For example, if they write Lasso, each letter would be made out of a lasso.

You could also use Chart Paper and have a different paper for each subject/ topic.

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A Week of Words
Posted by: shasha

Well, maybe just M-Th... I have a narrow bulletin board in my room dedicated to "Wonderful Words". I choose one for each day M-Th.
The students receive a worksheet on Monday.
Each day they add the day's word, find and write a synonym and create an original sentence using the new word. I only post each word one day at a time usually with a sticky note and id'd the day of the week.
I collect these worksheets on Friday and use them as an English grade...Ah ha - sometimes when I need some more grades within the English umbrella ( you know, Grammar or Spelling) I use the grade of the Word Wall for that. Otherwise, it's a Vocab grade.
They are free to use a dictionary or a thesaurus. However, they are penalized (big time!) if they copy a sentence from the helpful thesaurus or from one of their buddies.
My 7th Graders have never really complained about the work. And it's all worth it when they discover one of those same words in their independent reading. BTW I just put words that I've come across that I think they should know, might encounter, or ones that are new to me. I invented this idea - use it or any portion of it...Have fun.

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Posted by: AussieBird

Graphic Organizer for written work,

You could also laminate some pages and write with dry erase markers or similar.

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One Idea that I have seen used is....
Posted by: flowerlady

to have a dry erase easel (this particular teacher had a medium sized one) positioned on the counter beneath her word wall. Before snack time she would have a student choose a word from the wall and proceed to play a game of hangman with the class.

The students really enjoy this as its fun and they are able to visually scan the wall for possible answers.

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