Monday, September 17, 2012

My Music Classroom has a Word Wall - NOW WHAT?

So - You've finally found the time to go to the extra effort to create a word wall just like in everyone else's classroom.  You've got the words, you've got the letters up, you staple and staple and staple, and then you realize.....

If this is all the word wall is, then it is just a fancy dust catcher!

That will never do!

So, if you are like me, you start trying to do some homework to figure out how the regular folks (classroom teachers) use their word wall.

Here is what I've found so far in my very hairy scary quick searches.

First I went to Pinterest and found this awesome blog called Excuse Me Mrs.C  Which as it turns out was a great place to start.

Then I did some basic searches and came across a great site ALL about instructional strategies.  This one is a site we should probably all keep in our back pocket when we go to meetings because it is one of those sites that can alleviate a great deal of confusion by providing common definitions to all of those instructional terms and methodologies we throw around at meetings expecting that everyone has the same definition.  A site like this can create a shared understanding YAY!   It's called Instructional Strategies and wouldn't you know it?  They have a page dedicated to word walls and how to use them. At the bottom of the page there is an awesome bibliography.  I bet your school already has copies of some of those books referenced in the site that you could take a closer look at.

Here is what I gleaned from my very quick read of these resources.

1. One very basic use of a word wall is to provide a reference point for students as they practice spelling and reading common words.

That is just fine if the words on your word wall are common..... but what if they are uncommon? or content specific words as most musical words are?

So I kept digging.

I came across a study that followed the use of word walls with older students study from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy  This article gives lots of insight in how to help students be meta-cognitive about how they use the word wall. Great Questioning strategies for older kiddos!

And then FINALLY, I found the article I had been seeking!  An article about word walls in the music classroom  Here it is.  It was published in General Music Today , entitled Making Your Word Wall Work by Angela Leonhardt. AND it's AWESOME!  VERY useful, VERY practical, and VERY easy to read!

So here are the things that I am going to do now that I am informed about how to use my word wall more effectively.

1. I'm going to take down the words that I haven't introduced.

2. I'm going to use my colorful small pocket charts to sort our current words by grade level. Then as words are introduced I will add them to the big word wall.

3. I'm going to provide an opportunity for students to personalize their word wall.  Since my older students have music folders this will probably take the form of a paper added to their folder on which they can add words that we know.  Except on their personal chart, we will have the words categorized by theme....i.e. rhythm words, tempo words, etc....With my younger students who don't yet have folders and who need the support, I'll have to be a little more creative.  I'm sure that as the idea arrives, I'll share it on this stay tuned. 


  1. I have a magnetic word wall in my room and on my front board is a section called "Today's Words". Each grade is listed and I pull a few words off each day that will be highlighted in the lesson. For example, today third grade is singing Old Dan Tucker and we'll talk about "AB form", "verse", and "refrain". I like it because it reminds me to use those important vocabulary words daily in my room!

  2. Love this idea! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Now that I have had the chance to look over all your updates there are a few more words I would still like to add. I really don't mind doing the work and then sending them back to you seeing as you have put in so many hours already making these awesome word wall words. I just like to have things uniform so I know you don't have a blank template but, if you want to tell me the font and let me know your email I can attach a picture that would be appropriate along with the words. My personal email if my school one is (yes there is a 2 after my name apparently there used to be another Melanie Cundiff in the district and they didn't know how to erase her email and give it to me lol! I am sure there are parents that wonder all the time why I don't answer their emails... since I never get them). I just got done laminating all the words and put them up I used different colored paper for words with different groupings (for instance one with the elements, one color for the instruments...etc). since we don't have a a colored printer. The kids loved it! However, they are already pointing out words that are not up there (which I guess means I have taught them something :) ). Here is the list below that I have come up with. Like I said I don't mind making them and sending them to you I just need your email!!
    Purposes for Music (according to KDE curriculum documents):
    Artistic Expression

    Tempo (only one that I taught you didn’t already have)

    Other random words
    Time Signature
    Steady Beat
    AB form
    ABC form
    Dotted Half Note
    Dotted Quarter Note
    Oral Tradition

    Game Song
    Folk song

    Thumb Piano

    1. Thank you for your help, patience and enthusiasm. I used Publisher to create the words and I used Arial Narrow at 120 for almost all of the words unless they were super long and then I adjusted for fit. I've printed off your list and have already started creating these new additions to the list. THANKS!

  4. Is there a way to email you? so that you don't have to come up with all the images?

  5. I just got back from my state convention so I'll finally have "real" time to get to the work. Thanks for your help.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I love this idea! :-)

    1. You are very welcome! For the most updated version of the word wall, please visit

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