Tell me if I’m wrong… In my experience as a middle and high school math teacher, most students do not know their academic vocabulary. They skip the directions and “fancy” words to jump straight to the problem. Not knowing vocabulary can cause a considerable hindrance when students are trying to learn concepts that require prerequisite terminology. This is where interactive math word walls come into play.
Avoid your words from becoming “invisible”. Students must use them in a way that ensures they retain their meaning.
AND… having the students interact with the words only occasionally is another unfortunate underuse of the word wall. It will be difficult to retain the information and the precious math vocabulary will once again be lost. All memories of our fabulous rational numbers or function jargon will fly through one ear and out the other.
Interactive Math Word Wall Ideas
Here are 6 ways to use interactive math word walls to help your students understand the terms and retain their academic vocabulary.
1) Create sentence stems for your students.
Sentence stems can help in forming a true understanding of the vocabulary. Have your students use them to complete the sentence their own definition. The words can be visible on the wall for the students to use while they complete this activity. This way, students are made aware of the interactive math word wall as a valuable resource and are encouraged to use it regularly.
English Language Learners can benefit greatly from using sentence stems for any subject. They can write them out or use them to help them speak the academic language of the subject they are learning.
Here are some examples of math sentence stems you may want to use in your class…
- “The solution to the problem is _______________ because __________________.”
- “_________________ and ________________ are similar/different because ________________.”
- “Please explain to me how to ______________________________.”
- “To solve an equation first you________________ and then you__________________.”
- “The method I prefer when solving a system of equations is ____________.”
2) Have students provide and attach their own specific examples of the vocabulary from the word wall.
Once they are familiar with the meaning of the vocabulary, your students can collaborate with others to create their own examples.
They can then attach their examples directly onto the wall beside the relevant vocabulary as shown above. This way students are adding their own improvement to the word wall while providing a greater understanding of the words.
3) Create Google Forms or short questions for students to answer by looking at the word wall.
This is yet another utilization of the word wall that will help form the habit of using it as a resource in class and during other activities. Implementing technology may encourage certain students to engage with the word wall in different ways.
4) Print the vocabulary to make personal cards for each student.
Input the vocabulary in PowerPoint or Google Slides and print out 2-4 to a page. Students will now have their own personalized vocabulary. If your kids struggle with vocabulary, they can take their portable word wall with them to use at home. Additionally, students can quiz each other on the words for memorization or use them to study for upcoming assessments.
5) Print the vocabulary for use in Interactive Notebooks (INBs).
Use the cards for INB pages. Print the words 2-4 to a page to glue in and refer back to in a similar fashion to the personal cards idea above.
6) Create a coloring book style word wall
By using a dark outline and the “no color” function in PowerPoint, students can color their own word(s). This allows your kids to create personal attachments to the words they colored. It also creates collaborative opportunities with other students as they share their work with one another.
This coloring book concept also provides a great personalized aspect to your classroom. Students have the chance to see their addition as they walk in your room daily.
Creating games with the word wall cards or placing actual 3-D materials next to them are other ideas. Your students may also come up with some ideas you haven’t thought of!
When should I use these word walls?
As often as possible to keep students retaining the vocabulary!
I would love to help you get started with word walls in your classroom!
Go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to see my interactive middle school math word walls.
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Do you have any other ideas on how to use word walls in your classroom? I would love to read them! Let me know in the comments below.