Yesterday I was sitting with my friend, Ms. Turken, as we worked on a geometry assessment, figuring out a new schedule and just musing about some first grade topics in general. I had some ideas to throw at her related to my class library, my classroom layout and most importantly the way our Word Wall is being used–or really NOT being used.
We talked about the purpose of a word wall as we understood it, which is to be words that kiddos are accountable to know how to spell. Yeah–it’s full of words that most kids know how to spell and read already. It’s not words that most kids need support with so its use is minimal. That’s where we were in Rm. 202.
I sat down with my class today (in front of the Word Wall, naturally), and asked them what they were thinking. I asked what a Word Wall is for, and I got two decidedly different answers (which was not very surprising, actually). I had one friend tell me it was for sight words that we know, and someone else said, no, it’s for words that we need help with. We talked about how we needed to be clear–and agree upon–what we wanted the wall to be for us. I asked many kiddos if they personally ever use the wall to help them spell. Nope. No. Not really. Yes, but only for names. We agreed that having words like it, is, it, get, and, am, etc., is not helpful. I talked with them about what other kinds of things they might want to have on there, and also went to my word wall word stash to make a few suggestions if they needed help. The word BECAUSE came up (as it has several times in multiple conversations of the last week) as a word that most of us need to reference, and so we agreed it would go up there. Someone suggested color words, then we also talked about number words and other categories. This led to the idea that we could organize the words by type, rather than by alphabet.
I gave them a few minutes to work with a friend (or on their own) to suggest categories or specific words that we might want to put up on our wall. While they worked, I started to take down the letters.
Kids had great ideas for categories of words, like colors, numbers, names (which were already on our Word Wall but that are now in a square together instead of by first letter separately), school words, seasonal words (like Halloween, fall, parade, etc.), and just sight words or other “regular” words that might be tricky.
After school I was able to make a start at putting it back together. It already looks great, and I am SUPER excited with how the kiddos like it and how they begin to use it differently. After all, it is THEIR word wall and should be organized and created in a way that makes sense to THEM. Otherwise it’s just letters that no one pays any attention to.
Can’t wait to share more soon! Please tell us what you think! 🙂