Most content areas, have a language all its own. In order for students to follow instruction and apply concepts, they must have a grasp of key vocabulary. Research shows that struggling students, due to--skill and concept gaps, language barriers, and a variety of cognitive challenges--can benefit from a well-designed word wall. Catnip's Word Wall incorporates the three essential components shown to make a word wall most effective for struggling students: the word; a short, clearly stated definition; and, most importantly, a colorful and relevant graphic. These components allow students to make meaningful connections to vocabulary.
Making those meaningful connections to their vocabulary helps students establish background academic knowledge (Marzano, 2004). While some vocabulary needs direct instruction, science has discovered that most development happens through indirect exposure. To learn a new word, students without a learning disability require 10 – 11 exposures to the word. Students with a learning disability require as many as 40 exposures to the word (Allen, 2007). An accurate, high-interest word wall provides students repeated incidental exposure AND provides teachers with the opportunity for direct re-teach and reinforcement. Word walls help develop deep understanding by allowing students to see, hear and use terms in varied contexts.
Interaction and Engagement:
Word walls can be a great way to involve students in learning academic and content language. Having students locate terms on the wall, create their own versions of the words in journals, find them in a binder and place them on the wall are just a few ways to get students moving and learning. Catnip’s Word Walls are unique, eye-catching and fresh. Kids are immediately attracted to the color and style of the design. Even a day-dreaming, space-staring student can be reached by a strategically placed word wall (Capristo, 2013)!