The Value of a Word Wall

To continue working with the new vocabulary from the second reading find a place in your home to display the list of selected vocabulary words. This list can be on the refrigerator, in the hallway, or anyplace in your house that has high visibility. This word wall can be informal. It can be a large piece of paper with the words written in marker. It can be creative with different colors used to group words by source (words from the same book in the same color) or words that are related (nouns in one color, verbs in another, etc.)

The importance of the word wall is that it is an ongoing display of new vocabulary. It keeps the words visible, serving as a reminder of the words that your child has learned.

Make the wall come alive by occasionally talking about the words that are on the list. Make connections between new words and old words. You child might even be able to read some of the words.

The work by Robert Marzano is frequently cited in literacy staff development for educators K – 12.

His research tells us:
“Students’ comprehension will increase by 33 percentile points when vocabulary instruction focuses on specific words important to the content they are reading as opposed to words from high-frequency lists [teaching frequently-occurring words out of context]. To illustrate, … consider Students A and B, who have been asked to read and understand new content. Student B, who has not received systematic vocabulary instruction, scores at the 50th percentile. Student A, who has received such instruction, scores at the 83rd percentile.

In summary, the case for direct vocabulary instruction is strong. From a number of perspectives, the research indicates that wide reading probably is not sufficient in itself to ensure that students will develop the necessary vocabulary and consequently the necessary academic background knowledge to do well in school. In contrast, direct vocabulary instruction has an impressive track record of improving students’ background knowledge and the comprehension of academic content.” Marzano, Robert J. Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement: Research on What Works in Schools. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004. (pages 68 and 69) ISBN 0-87120-972-1


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