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How do you help students acquire new academic vocabulary? Are word walls part of that process?


Preface: At this moment in history, nearly everyone is engaging in virtual/distance/online learning. #covid19


Think back to the 2019-2020 school year. I'd be willing to wager that if I walked into your classroom, I would have seen a word wall. Word walls have played an important role in our classrooms for a long time now. In fact, it was one of the first things I found myself working to translate into the virtual learning experience.


Traditionally, word walls can be found as bulletin boards for the entire class to reference or as part of an individual student folder or notebook.  One of the easiest ways to translate the bulletin board version into a digital format is to utilize an online student glossary. Unfortunately, these are going to host all kinds of academic vocabulary. Not all of these words will be relevant to you and your students. My solution: use your favorite Google tool to add only the relevant words and add a hyperlink to the online glossary entry for each specific word. Yes, this will take some time, but no more time than drawing a beautiful anchor chart with all your favorite Mr. Sketch scented markers would take. 


What about individual student word walls, you ask? Well I have two solutions for that. The first one involves selecting one of your favorite Google tools. Offer that choice to each student. The word walls do not all have to be the same. They can absolutely personalize their word walls. Different digital tools require different types of set up, so I made a video with step by step directions.


Even though we are teaching and learning primarily online and we are tied to the tech for most of our "school day", I want to share part of my mindset about distance learning. Are you ready?




Here's the great thing about distance learning.

It doesn't mean everything has to be digital!

Here's the great thing about distance learning.

There is no reason why students can't make their own word walls using some paper and pencil. They can keep the word wall in a notebook, a folder, or even on a big piece of sketch paper taped to a wall or tacked on a small bulletin board in their home somewhere.

There really aren't any rules. If they prefer an unplugged version of their word wall, they should be allowed to do that. If they prefer to keep a digital word wall, that should be OK too. 



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