In recent weeks I’ve gotten several inquiries in regards to my portable word wall. I’ve decided to put this post together to end the mystery behind the portable word wall ::cue mystery music:: and to hopefully get you to join in on this amazing way to have a word wall while saving space and promoting engagement.
You’ve seen it, you’ve wondered about it, you’ve even contemplated taking the plunge and making your word wall portable. But, something is holding you back-you don’t understand its purpose. I’m going to explain the portable word wall, gush over its benefits, and give you tips on how to introduce it to your class.
What is a Portable Word Wall?
It is exactly as its name denotes. The words that we normally put on the word wall are on cards instead of written on the wall. They are organized alphabetically and placed on rings to create word wall “books”. They can be hung up on the wall and students go up and grab a “book” depending on what word they need help with. i.e. A student is writing and is not sure how to spell “friend”. They know the word begins with the letter F so they go up and grab the F book and take it back to their seat.
Why Use a Portable Word Wall?
1. It is a Space Saver
I used to dedicate an entire bulletin board to my word wall. It was great, but when you have limited display spaces in your classroom, it is not so great. Now I am able to use my cork board for student work display and my white board as a focus wall. A portable word wall doesn’t need a lot of space. My word wall isn’t even located on a wall that would be used for anything else. It is on the lower end of the wall and at eye level with the students when they sit on the rug. It is literally available wall space that I wouldn’t be using otherwise.
2. It is Engaging!
Yes, it is!! I LOVE that the students take responsibility of their learning. With the idea of student centered classrooms at the forefront, we can say that a portable word wall centers around the students. Whenever my kiddos are writing, they love getting up to the word wall and grabbing the book they need. The hands on experience makes it personal. The students remember that it is a tool for their advantage and it is very helpful for students who struggle with tracking letters because the word is right in front of them.
3. It is Portable!
My classroom is not fully flexible when it comes to seating arrangement, but during independent work time, the students are never at their seats. We sit in different areas throughout the room in order to work and some areas are far away from my traditional word wall or out of a student’s view. With the portable word wall, it doesn’t matter where my students are because they have access to it. They can easily grab the book they need and take it back to where they are sitting.
4. It is Interactive!
You are not limited to keeping the portable word wall on the wall. Because the words are on cards, they can be used to “play” some center games or for fluency practice. Students can use them to do read and write rainbow writing in which they read the word on the card and then write it 3 times using different writing tools (markers, crayons, pens). They can also use them as flash cards with a partner to practice reading and spelling. My personal favorite is when a student holds a word up on their forehead for their partner to see. The partner will spell the word and the person holding the card must identify which word they spelled. Fun!
How Do I Introduce it to My Class?
The best way to introduce it is by placing as much emphasis on it as you would a traditional word wall. Students should understand its importance and how it is a learning tool for their benefit and not a toy. The difference with the portable word wall is that students get excited about it because they will get to manipulate it. They get to stand up out of their seats and who doesn’t love getting a good stretch? I like to nip this “getting up and pretending I need a word wall book because I want to walk around and get a good stretch” behavior from the beginning (I’m sure this never happens in your class :wink:). Students are expected to highlight or underline any word in their writing that was aided by the word wall. This way they have “proof” that they used the word wall. I notice that after the initial 2 weeks, students don’t even need the proof anymore because they learn how to use the word wall appropriately and for their benefit.
Are you ready to take the plunge?! Start Here. These Portable Word Walls are EDITABLE. The beauty of it is that as your students interact with them, they will find words that they wish were on the word wall. With this editable resource, you can add those words in and customize for your students’ needs. Check out the three different editions of this resource in my TPT shop.