Friday, August 14, 2015

Kick Start Your School Year with Word Wall Activities

Seventh grade word wall- includes pictures for each word. 
Understanding mathematical vocabulary and terms is essential to student success with grade level content and skills. Like many teachers, I used word walls to display these important words, but I didn't always give my students an opportunity to interact with the words. 

Over the years, and with some trial and error, I have learned that my students will retain the words much better if I include regular opportunities to review the words. 

I know what you're thinking-- time. When do I have time? Well, I've got the answer! Read on to explore some of my favorite ways to review important mathematical vocabulary and terms in 10 minutes a day. 

1. I'm Thinking of a Word Wall Word: Once a week, take 5-10 minutes out of the day to review the words. Choose a word to define and say, “I’m thinking of a word wall word that means (insert the definition here).” Ask students to raise their hands to respond. Repeat the process for 5-10 words. Over time, with regular use of this activity, students will become more proficient with their math vocabulary. 

2. Find the Relationship: This is a great way to have students think about the relationship between words. Ask two students to pick a word from the word wall. Have student groups determine how the words are related. After all student groups have had the opportunity to discuss the relationship, share-out as a class.  For example, on the Multiplication & Division Word Wall, Student A picks the word 'array' and Student B picks the word 'remainder.' Once the students have had some think time, they discuss the relationship between an array and a remainder.

3. What's the Relationship?: Put 5 - 7 word wall words on the board. Have students determine how the words are 
related to each other. This activity is completely open-ended. Be sure to allow students think time to determine the relationship. Note: This activity could also be used as a pre-assessment to see what your students understand about the vocabulary and terms related to a specific topic. 

4. Illustrate It!: Give each student a whiteboard. Have students create a visual definition, illustration, for each word. Then have students discuss how their visuals match the definition with a partner or other classmate.

5. Match-up: This makes a great impromptu grouping strategy for pairs. When new words are introduced, create a definition and illustration on separate index cards. Before beginning a partner activity or for a quick state change, hand out enough index cards (unpaired) so that each student has an index card. Have students study their card and then find the student with either the definition or a correct illustration to match. 

6. Compare/ Contrast: Pick two words from the word wall. Have students complete the sentence: A (An) __________ is like a (an) __________ because ___________________. They are different because __________________________________________________. For example: A rectangle is like a square because they both have four sides. They are different because a square must have four equal sides and the sides on a rectangle do not have to be equal.

7. Headbands: Prepare sentence strips with one vocabulary word each. Wrap each sentence strip and staple the ends together. Give each student a "headband." Without looking at the word, ask students to put the headband around their heads. Have students walk around the classroom asking other students questions about their word until they are able to guess what word is on their headband.

8. SWAT-It!: This has always been a class favorite! 
Use an 8.5 inch x 11 inch size paper to program a 3 x 3 unit rectangle with 9 vocabulary words. Project the rectangle onto your classroom whiteboard so that the students can reach all of the rectangles with a fly-swatter. 
Ask for two volunteers to come to the front of the room and stand on the left and right side of the Swat-it! board. Hand each student a fly-swatter. Read a definition. The students use the fly-swatter to swat the word that matches the definition. The first student to swat the correct word is the winner. 

9. Always, Sometimes, Never: Create a statement using two word wall words. Have students determine whether the statement is always true, sometimes true, or never true. Discuss the students' responses using examples or counterexamples to support the claims. For example: All even numbers are composite. (Answer: Sometimes true. The number 2 is even and prime.)

How do you use your word wall? Please share ideas below. 


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