Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Word Walls--Great Support For ELLs in Content Classes

Amazing as it is, the first semester is half over.  For those ELLs in mainstream classes, this may not be good news for them since their grades at this point of the year might not be as high as they had hoped.  With teachers working their best to accommodate the many language and academic needs of ELLs, they need quick effective strategies to address the gaps such students face.  These strategies must be ones that visually provide student access to content not just for a few days, but for the length of the lesson.  How can this daunting task be met? 

Welcome to WORD WALLS The download here covers 14 pages of just about every possible use of word walls conceivable.  It is well written and quite easy to follow.  One of the most effective uses is to make it accessible to all by posting it in a highly visible section of the room.  After all, if students can't see it, they won't be able to use it.  Another way to use it is to have students keep copies in their binders to refer to as needed.  In this day of age of smartphones, students can take pictures of it to store on their phones for home use.  Teachers could also expand the vocabulary by identifying word parts (prefixes, roots, suffixes).  As students become more familiar with word parts, they become more effective in using what they know to determine meanings of unfamiliar words. 

Games?  There are many possibilities here.  How about having students look at several word walls, creating categories and then grouping words under those categories?  This is another vocabulary builder.  Another fun activity is to have students in small groups, select a word and draw a picture of its meaning to test the class on identifying the word? 

You will of course have your own activities here.  The main message is that a word list does little to nothing on building academic vocabulary for students, especially ELLs.



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