One of the opportunities that the first graders have in class when they're doing the Writer's Workshop and their editing for spelling is to look up here at the Heart Word Chart. So the expectation is that these are words that they know by heart. They're not written when the students come in September, it's blank, and as the words come up, it gives an opportunity for mini-lessons, first sounds, blending sounds, last sounds, words that are familiar, are, our, of, for, things that are easily mixed up in reading and in writing. And again, these are all words that the students know they need to know by heart, they don't think about anymore, they're just able to write them. So when they're during the Daily 5 rotation, they're at Word Work, particularly at the beginning of the year these are some of the words that they may choose to work on.
The way that we do a Word Wall in this classroom is an interactive approach, when the students enter at the beginning of the school year the wall is bare, there aren't any words that we can't spell. But as they come up the students then put them on the Word Wall. I select the words that go up here, the students don't have that choice, but what they do do for me is take the Word Wall Kit, print the correct spelling of the word onto a strip of paper that has Velcro on the back, check with me, which is extremely important before the word goes up onto the wall, and then it becomes part of our classroom dictionary.
At the end of that rotation of Daily 5, we will introduce whatever new words have gone up, so then the whole class is familiar with what other sources of information they have in the room. There are two reasons I like it. One is that it's low, so the students see it quite often, and it's readily accessible to them and they do use it often. When they're in their editing phase of any written activity in the classroom, you will see them come up to the Word Wall, take it off the Velcro strip, back to their desks, edit the word correctly, and then return it to the Word Wall. Again, I like the fact that it's at their eye level so when they're sitting at the carpet or they're walking through the classroom they see it. I like it's in their printing, so they have again ownership over it, and I do like the opportunity they have to remove it from the wall and use it at their desks.
Graded lists of high frequency words have been developed by Fry and Dolch: http://www.k12reader.com/fry-word-list-1000-high-frequency-words/
The goal of Heart Words and Interactive Word Wall: Learning to Spell Words by Heart (Virtual Tour) is to help students to commit irregularly spelled high frequency words to memory and provide opportunities for exposure to and use of a variety of words.
- High frequency words are the words that appear most often in printed material. Direct students' attention to these words during read-alouds and shared readings.
- Discuss the importance of recognizing high frequency words by sight and the direct impact of this recognition to reading fluency.
- The more often students are exposed to high frequency words the more likely they will be able to commit the spelling of these words to memory.
- Create personal dictionaries and have students add new high frequency words to their dictionaries on a regular basis.
- Make the word wall interactive by allowing the students to take the word off the wall and use at their workspace.