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The Interactive Word Wall strategy

The Interactive Word Wall strategy promotes a vocabulary-rich classroom environment
where walls are alive with words. The key to implementing the word wall strategy is
interactivity. The classroom walls are adorned with new and interesting words that the
students learn through interacting with their texts, the teacher, and one another. They are
encouraged to use the words posted on the word wall for their own reading and writing.
To promote interaction and dialogue around the words, it is important to keep the words
relevant; that is, “the posted words should be the focal point for thinking about and
noticing how they are used” (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2008, p. 52). Researchers
stressed the importance of students’ active engagement in using word walls (Harmon,
Wood, Hedrick, Vintinner, & Willeford, 2009). Their study with seventh-grade students
demonstrates that older as well as younger children need a print-rich environment that
engages them in their own word learning and vocabulary development.
Word walls have been used by teachers for different types of word-study activities
(Wagstaff, 1999). These include helping young children learn high-frequency words
(Cunningham, 2005) as well as developing academic vocabulary or specialized words in
content-area classrooms with older students. Many teachers use the word wall during
reading time to help students expand their vocabulary. The following are tips for sup-porting an interactive word wall:
 • Incorporate the Interactive Word Wall strategy as part of the word study instruc-tional routine.
 • Select the display wall carefully, making sure that it is at eye level and large enough
to post the words.
 • Decide on how you wish to display the words, such as alphabetically or organized
by themes or content areas.
 • Write the words legibly on oak tag or paper, demonstrating appropriate handwriting

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