August 11, 2012

No Word Wall for My Class This Year

Pre-K Word Wall

It's that time of year again, August...well, it might just as well be called 'September' as far as the majority of educators are concerned. Those piles you brought home at the end of the school year with every intention of  doing something with them; the hours spent in the classroom cleaning; the endless trips to dollar stores and craft stores hoping to get a deal.

I went to my classroom this week for the first time this summer. Spent 2 hours with paper towels and cleaning products, wiping down every surface (for some reason I didn't think that was part of my job, but I must not have read the fine print). And then I sat and stared. Stared at the bare walls, stared at the piles needing organizing, stared at the ceiling, stared out the window for a while -- yes, if you're guessing I was procrastinating, you'd be spot on.

And then I stared at the space that many of my colleagues would use as Word Wall space and I decided then and there that I would not be doing one this year. Over the years I've created a variety of word walls -- some teacher created, some commercial, most student generated and I've found that the ROI (return on investment) just wasn't worth it. Last year I did a combination of word wall and individual dictionaries -- the dictionaries clearly won out.  I found that students were able to tailor those paper dictionaries to their needs, with words they needed. They sought to fill those dictionaries with words that not only I helped them sound out and write, but more importantly, with words that their classmates helped them write -- and that was more powerful than a sentence strip on a wall.

So this year, I'm reclaiming that wall space for something my students will use. I'm not sure what it will be yet as I'm waiting for my students to let me know what they need. But one thing is for certain -- it won't be filled with words.

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