Transforming Your Science Classroom Using Interactive Word Walls

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At Bernshausen, our 5th grade Science team is incorporating interactive word walls in the classroom. These word walls strategically target academic vocabulary and are generated by the students. As a team, we decide what words to target by breaking down each TEK and map out the “bare bones” of the wall. After we complete a lab or hands-on activity, we build the wall together. The students not only place the actual items/pictures from the lab, but also provide justifications (written or verbally) of why each item belongs where it does.

This year, we are also including CERs with our word walls. CER stands for Claim – the answer to the question, Evidence – data/proof from the lab/what they saw or did, and Reasoning – the logical connection or definition of the term they are identifying. When students place items of the word wall, they use the CER to justify their placement. We use the sentence stem “I claim _______ because _________. My claim is valid because ___________. Including the CER with the word wall has really helped our students make relevant connections.

Incorporating the interactive word walls has transformed my classroom instruction. Our students truly enjoy building the walls and take charge of their own learning. I asked a few of my students how interactive word walls supported their learning. Here are some of their responses:

  • “The walls help me when I don’t understand or when I forget something we have done before.”
  • “They are fun to set up and a good review.”
  • “If I am having trouble with a test question, I can go to the wall to see examples and then pick my answer.”
  • “The word wall is detailed and helps me organize my learning.”

Here are some examples of my wall this year:

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