Saturday, August 11, 2012

Using Word Walls and Student Generated Alphabets in the 5th Grade Classroom

My school district recently adopted the Gómez and Gómez model of dual language instruction, which is being implemented in part school wide, even in non dual language classrooms. The one thing I will say is that this model refers to worksheets and language killers. I don't appreciate this black and white view of the learning tools that are used in the classroom, because when it's spoken like that, the administrators who adopt them tend to also take a very black and white view to these things and accept them at face value.

Worksheets aren't the best language learning tool, especially if they're used all the time, but in math, they can be great, because math is all about repetition, especially when a child is learning to multiply or further refine their skills. In social studies, reading, and science, a well timed, properly constructed worksheet can help review skills, or even assess them quickly. So I'm not very appreciative of being told that worksheets are language killers, because just like many other things, they have a place in the classroom if used appropriately and with skill. But that's all I'll say to start.

Now, on the plus side, this model is big on subject and age appropriate vocabulary, so that's what I wanted to get into a little more this morning. Of course, the post below is also appropriate for anyone wanting to teach more vocabulary and use word walls and such in their classroom (because, after all, it would be ridiculous to say that the makers of Gómez and Gómez invented such things) could also use these resources.

Now, first of all, to those of you out there using the Gómez and Gómez model, you're asked to do a few various items that will hang up in your classroom. And by things, I mean word walls and the student generated alphabet. I'm going to show some ideas and resources for making these things, as well as what they are, what they mean, and how they can be implemented in any classroom:

In this Gómez and Gómez model, dual language classrooms have English words in blue and Spanish words in red. They label pretty much the entire classroom using these identifying words. This is straight forward in a primary classrooms, where they'll label things like "door," "television," and "computer." As always, with these sorts of models, it's a little less straight forward, and there usually aren't any resources given for the intermediate classrooms. In 5th grade, instead of labeling the door with "door," you might use "door hinge" or something a little more advanced (and this is something that I am currently highly skeptical about using, but enough of that).

Now, the class needs to have an interactive word wall, subject specific word walls, and a student generated alphabet. So there goes every bulletin board in your classroom. UNLESS you can be creative. Use wall space instead of bulletin boards. Step into Second Grade has a great post that shows how to use wall space instead of bulletin board space for the student generated alphabet. I will post pictures of mine once it's done. I just found out about these requirements yesterday afternoon, so I haven't made one yet. The student generated alphabet, in the Gomez and Gomez dual language model must be just that, student generated. It doesn't need to be changed during the school year. Easy enough. Again, expect pictures once I have this done.

Next up is the interactive word wall. What is meant by this is a word wall in your classroom that includes words that students suggest. At most age groups, there can be teacher "suggestions" to get words up there, but the intended use is that any word a kid doesn't know goes up on the word wall. I'm still unsure as to how this will play out in my classroom, but this is how it works.

Finally, there is the most popular, the content word wall. Optimally, your contents should be separated by colors (if possible), or done separately from one another. My classroom will include vocabulary for Math, Reading/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.

Here are a few resources for vocabulary word walls that can be used in the 5th grade classroom:


READING/LANGUAGE ARTS: It goes without saying that the main source of reading vocabulary should come from the books or passages you are reading with your students. Now, apart from those, here are a few resources:

SCIENCE: Your science vocabulary will obviously be focused around your content. So these links are a little more general in nature:
SOCIAL STUDIES: Again, your vocabulary in social studies is obviously going to be based around your content. Here are some resources:

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments on this blog will be moderated, please stay on topic and refrain from using profanity. Spam will simply be ignored.