Thursday, February 7, 2013

Personal Word Walls

I love the concept of a word wall!  I've toyed with the idea of putting up my word wall (on the wall) all year, but I know that once a word goes up there it doesn't really get used or looked at again.  The kids forget what the word is and then get frustrated about not being able to remember the word or read the word, so they lose interest and the words become just another decoration in the room.

So, we make personal word walls.

Each student is given a manila folder and stickers (some are leftover alphabet stickers and others are plain dot stickers and the students write the letters on them).  The students place the stickers on the folder in order and remembering to leave enough space to write words.  Not only is this a word wall, but a pretty good fine motor and visual planning activity.  Some of my kids had a hard time with this.  In the picture below you will see a quick accommodation I made for a student with some fine motor challenges.  I used small sticky note to help him with spacing his letters out appropriately.  (I love when little things make a big difference!)

After all of the stickers are added, the students decorate the front cover and then begin to add words to their "wall."  One way I help motivate my students to collect words independently (words that are not their practice words or in our story for the week) is for every ten words the students collect for their wall they receive a sticker to use for decoration on the cover of the folder.  The kids love to rummage through my sticker collection to find "just the right one." :)
Some of the words my students add are:  (the two items in bold are words they are required to add to the word wall)
the sight words they are practicing for the week
vocabulary from the weekly story
any word they do not know that they read in a book
interesting words
words they have a difficult time spelling or saying

Students then use the words they have collected to add into their writing assignments, practice reading, or use for word work time.  I like to do my word wall this way, because it allows me to differentiate for each student (as far as words and vocabulary is concerned).  The students are allowed to have words that interest them, words that are on their level to continue practicing, and gives them ownership over the words they choose to make a part of their collection.

Activities for Personal Word Walls:
Write and read all of the word you have in common with a buddy

Switch word walls with a partner and read your partner's words

Time yourself reading a list of words or your entire word wall

Bang!: Students each choose 5 of their word wall words and each one on a slip of paper, then place the paper in a box. The children sit in a circle and each take a word from the box. If they can read the word, they get to keep it. If they cannot, the word is returned to the box. If they pull a card with the word Bang! from the box, all the cards they have collected so far must be returned to the box. The child with the greatest number of cards when the game ends is the winner.

Around the World:  All the students sit in a circle.  One student stands behind another student who is sitting. The teacher flashes them a word card (collected from the word walls). Whichever child says the word first will move on to the next student. The student who makes it back to his or her own desk or starting point is the winner.

Pay Per Word:  Divide the children into two teams. Have play money available in the following values: pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.  Each money denomination represents an activity with an increasing degree of difficulty. 
Penny = child reads word
Nickel = the child reads the word and acts it out
Dime =  for a dime the child reads the word and tells its meaning
Quarter = the reads the word and uses it in a sentence correctly
When it is a a student's turn, he tells how much money he is playing for and then performs the activity associated with that coin amount.  If student answers correctly he (or his team if you would rather play teams) gets the money.
If the student is incorrect the other team gets a chance to steal.
The team with the most money at the end of the game wins.

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