A word wall is a common sight in a classroom. It is useful for introducing and reinforcing vocabulary. Its usefulness is obvious in an elementary, language arts, or foreign language class where vocabulary lessons are part of the curriculum. In my physics class where there is not enough time to really teach the core of the curriculum, the word wall has become an educational decoration. The main problem is how to use a word wall in a flipped classroom where there is very little whole class instruction. There needs to be a way to adapt the word wall for individual or small group work time.
|Personal Word Wall|
For vocabulary, I introduce, define and explain new vocabulary in the video lessons and provide a list of new and commonly misunderstood words. Based on some of the questions and responses from students along with physics word barf, I can tell this is not quite enough work with the academic vocabulary used for physics. For a student paced classroom, I created the Personal Word Wall activity. In this activity students use the vocabulary to describe and analyze the physics found in a photograph. Then create a digital poster, single presentation slide or sharable document. This allows the student to think about the physics, process how their thoughts can be expressed using academic vocabulary and create a product that communicates their learning. The work is compiled to create a whole word wall for the class, giving everyone access to vocabulary with pictures and descriptions. With the ability to narrate as a choice, students who find writing difficult can still express what they understand about the topic. Pictures give an interesting visual reference to engage students. By using real examples, students are forced to move beyond the diagrams used in lecture and see how physics really applies in the real world.
I am looking forward to trying this next year. This version of a word wall activity, happening at the start of a lesson, has more instructional value than waiting for review day.