Adding a math word wall to my classroom completely changed my teaching. A couple years before making the jump to teaching high school special education math, I taught mainstream Algebra and Algebra 2 in Boston. My classroom was right next to the classroom of a Geometry teacher who would later go on to become Teacher of the Year. Lining the bulletin boards and walls of his classroom, from floor to ceiling, were vocabulary words with drawings and examples making the most amazing display. At the time I thought it was a bit extreme. I mean, aren't these kids in high school? Since then, I have realized how powerful math word walls are - especially those that show the words in context.

To up my odds of landing a full-time teaching job, I was a substitute teacher for a year. I'll never forget a job I took in a kindergarten class. The letter of the day was K. Some kids could write "kite", "kat" (English is so weird), while other kids couldn't even write a K. The discrepancy in abilities between kids in a kindergarten class completely blew my mind. I helped one kid write a K and the look on his face! I will never forget that moment.

In all of our classrooms there is a wide range of abilities. Some kids are above grade level while others may be years behind. What I like the most about word walls is that they are always there offering information to students who need it. Whether they are too shy to ask a question or need a quick reminder, or maybe they have a hard time concentrating so do a lot of looking around the room. While they are glancing around, maybe they'll learn something new. Word walls allow kids to access the curriculum at their level and continue to offer support every day. I write more about this in the post 5 Ways Math Word Walls Have Changed My Teaching.

In this post I'll share photos of my own classroom's word walls (like the photo at the top) as well as photos of word walls I have made for teachers by request. This post is linked in

To up my odds of landing a full-time teaching job, I was a substitute teacher for a year. I'll never forget a job I took in a kindergarten class. The letter of the day was K. Some kids could write "kite", "kat" (English is so weird), while other kids couldn't even write a K. The discrepancy in abilities between kids in a kindergarten class completely blew my mind. I helped one kid write a K and the look on his face! I will never forget that moment.

In all of our classrooms there is a wide range of abilities. Some kids are above grade level while others may be years behind. What I like the most about word walls is that they are always there offering information to students who need it. Whether they are too shy to ask a question or need a quick reminder, or maybe they have a hard time concentrating so do a lot of looking around the room. While they are glancing around, maybe they'll learn something new. Word walls allow kids to access the curriculum at their level and continue to offer support every day. I write more about this in the post 5 Ways Math Word Walls Have Changed My Teaching.

In this post I'll share photos of my own classroom's word walls (like the photo at the top) as well as photos of word walls I have made for teachers by request. This post is linked in

*8 Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Teaching Algebra and Geometry*on the We Are Teachers blog.Since starting at my current school, I have taught Geometry, Biology, Consumer Math and Algebra 2. Since Algebra 1 is so important, we have references for it too. Here are some photos of the word walls in my classroom.

Here you can see an anchor chart for drawing and naming points, lines and segments. I made the parallel lines cut by a transversal poster below it from cut paper. (I have a free parallel lines cut by a transversal poster and coloring page here).

I recently made a Geometry word wall and a super sweet teacher sent me this photo of it hanging in her classroom. Here is my own photo of some of the included parts up close:

Here is a closeup of the transformations section:

Next up is our wall of Algebra, Geometry and Algebra 2 formulas. I like to think of this wall as "the hodgepodge", though I have since updated most of my math word walls.

The PEMDAS, slope formula, y=mx+b, and green exponents posters are all also made from cut colored paper like the angle pairs poster in the previous photo. Here's a close up of the exponents posters:

This PEMDAS mobile was a recent addition.

Our Algebra 2 word wall has grown a lot over the years. Teachers have asked me to make parent graphs for nonlinear functions and also expand the word wall in other areas. It's gone through a lot of updates! :) Here's a photo of our reference for quadratics.

And of course we need a Quadratic Formula anchor chart. My students were able to use this one a lot more effectively once I added the white-out to the a, b and c in the formula. You can read more about the quadratics activities we do in class in the post Fun with Quadratics.

I love catching students glancing at our word walls for hints. To me, knowing how to access information is just as important as the information itself. Every year I add more and more to our classroom word walls. The more I add, the better things get.

One of the quadratics posters that worked especially well during our combined graphing calculator/projectile motion unit - a unit that is VERY hard at first for my students - was this one.

One of the quadratics posters that worked especially well during our combined graphing calculator/projectile motion unit - a unit that is VERY hard at first for my students - was this one.

It shows good cursor placements for finding maximum points and zeros. My students get confused by "left bound" and "right bound" and this poster all but completely eliminates this confusion.

These factoring anchor charts hang in my room to remind my students how to factor trinomials and binomials. I always find my students have a harder time retaining how to factor binomials than trinomials!

In an earlier post I wrote about our classroom Fridge, an area in our classroom where students are invited to display their hard work. I am always surprised that even my seniors would rather hang their work in our classroom than take it home. Math pennants are another fun way to display student work. You can download free math pennants though this link.

Having a reference in our room for the language of math has helped so much, especially for those small but powerful words like

*"of"*and

*"is"*. When kids start seeing Math as a language that can be translated into symbols... WHOA watch out World! :)

I recently combined all of my math word walls into a discounted math word walls bundle.

Having word walls in my classroom has completely changed my teaching. I feel like a better teacher and my students feel less anxious and more confident in their ability to do hard math. The more I add to my classroom walls the more empowered my students feel and become.

Do you keep these up all year or change them up throughout? I love this!

ReplyDeleteWe end up piling papers on top of others as the year goes on. A lot of the magnets are those really strong small ones that you get at hubby stores (at least that's where my husband got them before I stole them:). My classes are small so this probably works better than if I had 5 classes of 30 kids each. I can imagine things getting a little crazy then!

DeleteHow about 6 classes of 30-38?! :(

DeleteI can't even imagine. I had a class larger than that once... it was impossible for me to find any success when there weren't even enough seats. To have 6 classes that large? I commend you!

DeleteDo you start off the year blank? And as the year goes on add stuff as you cover content? I would love to do something like this this year. The kids appreciate an awesome looking classroom like this!

ReplyDeleteThanks for the ideas!!

Hi Elizabeth! I leave it all up all year. This way I figure it may add a little background knowledge (or at least some familiarity) before we get to the topic.

DeleteHi! I was wondering what you do during assessments? Do you cover the word walls?

ReplyDeleteHi Anmaree, To me, knowing how to access and use information is more important than memorization. I never cover them up. That being said, I would have to cover them if my kids had to take state exams. I'm lucky that I teach 11th and 12th grades and our state exams end in 10th grade.

DeleteWow, I love this! Making a creative and informative space is so fantastic at all levels.

ReplyDeleteThank you so much Betsy! It makes teaching a whole lot easier too:) Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

Deletedo you have math pennant i know angle pairs for umber 11 and 12

ReplyDeleteI do! You can check this one out here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Angle-Pair-Relationships-Pennant-2541942

DeleteDo you have pictures of your biology word wall?

ReplyDeleteI don't have a word wall for Biology but what a good idea!

DeleteThank you so much for this post as I am just starting to brainstorm ideas for a word wall in my high school math classroom.

ReplyDeleteHi Dawn!

DeleteDid you get your word wall going this year? I’d love to hear an update!