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Teaching Reading: A Balanced Approach for Today's Classrooms
Pamela Farris, Northern Illinois University
Carol Fuhler, Iowa State University
Maria Walther

Emergent Literacy: Beginning Reading and Writing

Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategy: Posting Word Walls in Limited Space

It is a well-known fact that word walls are invaluable classroom tools. However, educators sometimes struggle to find adequate and appropriate space for their word walls. In her guide, Teaching Reading and Writing with Word Walls (1999), Janiel Wagstaff describes some strategies for incorporating word walls in your classroom when you have multiple classes or very little wall space. Below are some ideas from Wagstaff.

  • 3-Way Display: Use free-standing "science boards"--the heavy cardboard or poster board that have been made into 3-paneled display boards. By using these 3-panel boards, you can more easily move and, if necessary, store the word walls.
  • Chalk-board Space: Use sticky-tack instead of messy, damaging tape to post your word wall on your extra chalk-board space. With sticky-tack, you can handily post, remove, and re-post words with little fuss or mess.
  • Manila File Folders: Create smaller, portable word walls for individual students or small groups. In particular, these portable word walls are handy for students who leave your classroom to receive resource help.
  • Classroom Door: Even classroom doors may be used for word walls. The trick is, make sure the word wall is accessible.

Regardless of where you post your word wall, be sure that you bear in mind Patricia Cunningham's (2000) suggestions for a visually accessible word wall. First, use bold, black letters to form the words. Secondly, separate commonly confused words such as saw/was, or to/too/two by putting each word on a different colored background. Finally, trace around the shape of the word so that students have yet another visual feature to remember about the word.