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I think there are so many things our different levels of education could learn from one another. We are finally moving into a less isolated situation within our own school buildings, now we need to figure out ways to be less isolated from other buildings. The more discussion, debate, and collaboration we can foster the better we will all become.

Dave Sherman

Terrific idea, Scott. But having the words up on the wall is only a start. The students must be expected to use the words in context. They must be required to use the words correctly as they speak in class, and they should always be required to speak in complete sentences, which is something teachers often forget and don't model themselves. The students need to do much more writing in other subject areas besides English class and use the words in their writing. Solving a math problem and explaining in writing HOW they solved the problem are two different things. There are some high schools in Illinois that are now requiring two grades in every subject. One grade is for the subject (e.g. calculus) and the other grade is a writing grade. Both grades count equally on the report card/GPA. This sends a strong message that writing and language are very important.

Scott Elias

Thanks Dave and Jenny.

I love the idea of writing in math. Most state tests require students to EXPLAIN how they got their answers in addition to simply "showing their work."

I'm hoping to see my school start moving in this direction. Posting word walls, referencing them, and placing the words in some kind of context for the students.

Mike Waiksnis

I think this is a wonderful idea. At my last high school, we just started using them as well. Make sure the teachers focus on them and they are not just "up there". At the middle school I currently work at, the word walls are required. Our PE teachers even have them (and use them)!

Kristin Kakos Leclaire

This is a great idea; one of my most annoying struggles as a high school English teacher is making difficult vocabulary an integral part of the classroom. This sounds like a very feasible way to help my students "absorb" the vocabulary. Since I'm in a laptop classroom, I wonder if I can adapt this idea to fit our technology...perhaps each week they could pick a vocabulary slide to set as their desktop background?

Dan Meyer

Ha ha. "... or PowerPoint if you must ...." More PowerPoint hating please.

Kelly Christopherson

This idea works so well in all subjects. As a former middle years teacher, I used such a wall where I would place words from all the subjects. It was useful, had students being aware of the vocabulary and allowed them to use words across a variety of subject areas. I use a similar idea in my CPT class where words of the class are put on a wiki page and students can refer to them. We also add words that students come across which they don't understand or they think would be useful in the class. It doesn't work as well as the word wall but, because it can be accessed anytime, is used a bit, especially by motivated students. Maybe teachers in middle and senior classes could have a column or area for words from other subjects that would help to increase word usage across subjects areas.

All the classrooms from K - 6 have word walls and our library has a "book" wall where students add names of books that they recommend and then we track how other students rate them.

Any wall space can become a learning space with a little bit of imagination. Thanks for the reminder and great ideas Scott!

Scott Elias

Thanks for the great feedback. I'm looking forward to seeing if I can help this catch on at my school this year.

And, Dan - I'm working on learning Pages so you'd better keep up!

Melinda Miller

We have been using word walls at our elementary for a long time. The only pitfall we sometimes have is keeping them updated. It is easy to forget they are 'up there.' What gets noticed gets done so I am going to have to make sure I send reminders and observe these as they grow over the year. Excellent idea for older kiddos!

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