Is your word wall going underutilized, or maybe even unutilized all together?

I had this problem for a long time in my classroom. I struggled through solutions, ultimately deciding on student created a thematic/ content area word wall (more about this later) displayed in the classroom, and changed monthly.

However, something was missing. I was being asked 100 times per day “How you you spell..” I always reach for sticky notes to quickly scrawl the word, or reply with “use your best first grade spelling.” The problem was that my students weren’t making good progress towards spelling words correctly consistently….

And thus… a “personal word wall” was born! My earliest version involved a file folder, which worked wonders for my students! (Here’s a teeny tiny version of it and here’s where I wrote about it a couple years ago.)


The effects grew further when I introduced their very own word booklets!

How I Set the Stage:

*Sticky Notes are For Important Information: I launch this lesson much earlier in the year, but it teaches students about using sticky notes as a tool.

*Continue to encourage students to continue to use their best spelling for most words by “stretching out the sounds.” This method does not replace inventive spelling, which we use in the classroom, but rather helps students to bridge to traditional spelling with common words.

How Do I Use Them?

*I provided each student with their own small stack of sticky notes to keep in their pencil boxes. When they are struggling to spell a word or I notice they are misspelling a common word, we write the note on a sticky, and they stick it to the appropriate page.

*When a student has mastered a word, or the thematic/ seasonal word is no longer needed, remove the sticky note! I have attached an envelope to the back of student books in the past in order for them to place the words they’ve mastered inside.  For my first graders, this part happens with my guidance usually as a part of conferences.

3 Awesome Things That Happened

1. Increased Engagement: My students had a new excitement for writing. I can’t say I was surprised though…they all love sticky notes don’t they?

2.  Increased Independence: Students gained independence with writing-  Initially I had a huge influx of those students needing words on sticky notes. This is to be expected and celebrated. It’s like practice for the routine ahead, so I encourage it at first.  Before long, students stopped asking and started checking their books first.  Then slowly students started using their own resources (books, classroom labels, dictionary etc) to find the words they needed.

3.Increased spelling abilities- With each student embracing his/her own personal goal and tracking their progress with their sticky notes, their spelling continued to improve!

I’ve recently added my booklet to my shop if you’d like to use the full page or half page booklet templates I’ve created! You can find it here!