Use a Personal Word Wall During Guided Writing

It’s not unusual for students to correctly spell a word in isolation but forget that same word during writing. It happens because young learners are thinking about so many things while they write. They’re trying to remember their sentence, thinking about forming letters correctly, saying words slowly so they can hear and record sounds in sequence, and trying to remember to put a period at the end of the sentence. When students are reading at level H and higher, you can give them a personal word wall to use during their guided writing. The words are listed in alphabetical order so they can find them quickly, and there is only one page so they don’t get overwhelmed. Prompt them to use the word wall when they aren’t sure how to spell a word, and praise them when you see them using the word wall without your prompting. I often draw a star at the top of a student’s paper whenever he or she does something I value. I’ll say, “I like the way you used your word wall. I’m going to give you a star!” Don’t be surprised if eavesdroppers in the group start using their word walls, too. They truly want to please you.

Jan Richardson is an educational consultant and author of the popular title The Next Step in Guided Reading. Read more of her tips for Guided Writing on her website.