Math = Love: Word Wall Reflection

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Word Wall Reflection

This past school year, I attempted to maintain a word wall for my Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 classes.  I don't think I ever had a teacher use a word wall when I was in school.  And, none of the teachers I did my student teaching with had word walls.  I didn't learn about them in college, either.  So, I guess I learned about word walls via blogs and pinterest. 

I didn't really use my word walls to their full potential during this first year of teaching.  I think I updated them about three times over the course of the school year.  I never created words for the last few units of each subject. 

Algebra 2 Word Wall
Students didn't use them as much as I would have hoped, but I didn't teach them how to use it.  I did have a few students who would use it when they couldn't think of a word.  And, as soon as they started using it, other students would start using it.  So, they are useful.  I just need to find a way to better incorporate it into my classroom routines.  
Algebra 1 Word Wall
One day in Algebra 1, I required my students to choose a word from the word wall and write a letter to the celebrity of their choice.  In their letter, they had to explain what the vocab word meant.  Those were enlightening to read.  And, they made me realize how out of touch I am with pop culture. 

I put up the words randomly, and I think that was a mistake.  I'm going to replace the fun fonts with a font that can be easily read from across the classroom.  Next year, I think I want to color-code the words by unit.  And, I want to put the units up in a linear fashion.  I know it won't be as "cute," but I think it will be more functional and lead to a higher level of usage by my students.  If they are looking for a word that they have learned recently, they will look at the most recently added words.  If they've forgotten a word from the beginning of the school year, they can quickly look at the first sets of words.

Next year, I will prompt my students to use the word wall more often.  When I want my students to express themselves using more specific and appropriate terms, I can direct them to the word wall.  The word wall in my classroom will only be as useful as I make it.  Next year, it will add more than just color to my walls.  It will add to the learning environment.


  1. I also have a word wall, that I finally put to use this last year, but not as much as I should. I am going to try to use it more next year!

  2. I had thought my MS students would think the word wall beneath them - but they love it! In fact, they sometimes get upset when I get behind! ;-) {I have a spot for today's vocabulary which then moves onto the word wall after the lesson}. I do my word wall alphabetically and color code by class. That keeps it reasonably organized and user-friendly. :-)

  3. I've just stumbled across your blog through a link on Pinterest and I'm so glad I did! I teach year six in New Zealand which is the last year of primary school. A lot of this stuff is too advanced for most, but my top group of kids would definitely benefit from me following your posts! I love how you've kept things colourful and interactive even with the slightly older kids

    x Serena x
    Magic Mistakes & Mayhem

  4. Thanks for this! I've been thinking about incorporating a word wall next year, but am concerned with how useful it will really be. I think that color-coding by unit is a great idea.

  5. I have had a word wall every school year except this past one. One thing I am guilty of is plopping the words up at the beginning of the year and not really having the students interact with it throughout the year. I have always had difficulty keeping it updated for multiple classes of the same subject.

  6. I will be a new teacher this year ... This will also be my first time working with high school special education. Do you think it will be useful for math students at that level? It will probably be an inclusion math class.

  7. Hi,

    Could you post a picture of your word wall from this year? Thanks ;)

    1. I haven't had a word wall for the past two years.

  8. At a workshop, it was suggested that a word wall is more effective if the placement of the words has significance. For example, if you are putting up the words "x-axis" and "y-axis," then place the x-axis horizontally and the y-axis vertically. Gives the students a frame of reference for some of the words.