Saturday, August 4, 2012

My New and Improved Word Wall!

This year, I decided to revamp the word wall in my classroom. I wish I had a before picture, but I never took one last year. Basically, I used LONG pieces of butcher paper  to create a large rectangle on the wall. This thing was probably 12' x 6'. It was a pain to hang up because you had to have at least 2 people hold the paper up and it took forever to add border to the perimeter. Last year, I would come into school in the morning to see that the entire top half of my word wall had come off the wall.

My awesome teammate, Kristin, used a completely different word wall in her classroom so I decided to create one like hers for this year. First, I bought a pack of 12"x12" scrapbook paper with colors that went with my classroom. Then, I cut the papers to be 8.5"x11" so I could print on them. I made a document on the computer that just had a large rectangle on the bottom half of the sheet. I printed the rectangles on the paper and then used punch-out letters to make the letters at the top. Last, I laminated and hung them up on the wall. Seriously, it took me about 10 minutes to hang the whole thing compared to about an hour that my old one did! In case you're wondering what the rectangle is for, I'm going to have my students draw a picture of a word that starts with each letter and then I will hang the picture in the rectangle. Here's a picture of my completed project:

As far as adding new words to the word wall, we have 5 sight words that we practice each week. I print these words on cards, hang them up on our front whiteboard, and we do several activities each week to practice them. Once the week is over, I add the 5 words to the word wall and then we start with 5 more the next week. One of the activities my students do to practice these words is use their whiteboards for about 10 minutes each day for our word wall routine. Here's how it goes:

1. The "word wall helper" (this is a student job in our classroom) leads the class at the front of the whiteboard with a pointer stick. Everyone else sits on the carpet with their own individual whiteboard, dry erase marker, and a sock (we use these as erasers!).
2. The word wall helper points to the word and the students SAY-SPELL-SAY-VISUALIZE-WRITE-CHECK.
3. First, they say the word aloud, spell it, and say it again.
4. Next, they visualize the word. They can do this 3 different ways but all 3 ways have to be done without talking. They can "air write" the word which means they use their finger to write the word in the air. They can "brain write" which means they close their eyes and visualize the word over and over in their head. Or they can "hand write" which means they use a finger to write the word over and over again on the palm of their hand. This only lasts for about one minute.
5. The next step is that the kids write the word on their whiteboard.
6. Last, the word wall helper spells the word aloud and everyone checks to make sure that they spelled it correctly. Once they've checked, they erase and we go onto the next word.

I know this probably sounds like it take forever, but once the students learn the routine, it only take about 10 minutes start to finish. It incorporates all types of learning styles- students hear the word, write it, trace it in the air, etc. I've had great success with my students learning their sight words and I know that this activity greatly helps! Plus, the kids LOVE being the word wall helper for the week. They get so excited to use the pointer stick and act like the teacher!

What are some fun ways that you have your students practice their sight words?

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