Hello again! I know it's been a while since I've actually blogged, but I really have been doing some fun and exciting things in my classroom.
One of the favorite things I've been doing is Interactive Science Word Walls. I LOVE them! But I can't take credit for them. They are the brainchild of Dr. Julie Jackson, an associate professor at Texas State University. I've been lucky enough to work with Dr. Jackson for the past couple of years (and also lucky enough to have her grandsons in my class!)
So what are Interactive Science Word Walls? They are SO MUCH MORE than traditional word walls. Simply put--they are giant, colorful, engaging, hands-on, student-created graphic organizers! They help students develop a deep understanding of key science vocabulary.
Here are a few pictures of some of the word walls my kids and I have created. Over the coming months, I will detail some of the lessons that go with these walls. But in the meantime, here are a few important tips:
- The word walls are not "front-loaded". In other words, I do not pre-make the word walls ahead of time and put them up at the beginning of my unit. They are made with my kids in the context of hands-on, inquiry-based science activities. Vocabulary is introduced as children are having concrete experiences that they can connect all those words to.
- That does not mean that the walls should not be planned out. Know in advance what vocabulary you want the kids to learn (look to your standards for that). Think about how the vocabulary fits in to the objectives that you are teaching and create a graphic organizer that supports those objectives. Dr. Jackson has some really good planning documents on her website (The Science Toolkit) to help with this.
- When possible, real-objects should be used on the walls. Real rocks, leaves, tools, etc! When not possible, pictures should be used (kind of hard to put the moon on your wall).
- The kids should help as much as possible when creating these walls. In kindergarten, I start out doing most of the work, because I want the walls to be usable (let's face it--there's a lot of scribbling in the beginning of kinder). But even at the beginning of the year, I let the kids pick out the objects that will go with the words. As the year progresses, and the kids gain more writing and drawing skills, they do more of the work.
- Use these word walls every day! Don't just put them up so they look pretty. Use the vocabulary in discussions, with sentence stems, writing and in science notebooks.
- The word walls need to be accessible! In kinder, that means down low. Because wall space is at a premium in my classroom, I use rolling pocket charts for my walls. The kids are able to take the words out, use them to write, and put them back when they are finished.
I have been truly amazed at how well my kids learn science vocabulary since I started using Interactive Science Word Walls. I highly recommend a visit to Dr. Jackson's website, The Science Toolkit and her Facebook page for lots and lots of pictures and resources to help you build your own walls with your students.