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Gathering words to use in writing

Students can only develop rich and powerful vocabularies if they engage in many varied activities that invite, motivate and prompt them to learn and use sophisticated and appropriate words.

Graves The Vocabulary Book

The use of word banks or word walls is a strategy that scaffolds pupils use of rich language related to an area of learning. They:

• are easily accessible and semi-permanent, providing a reference point for talk and writing.

• are most powerful when their use is modelled

• are a visual support for all pupils

• can be organised in many ways; alphabetically, categorised by pupils, according to tiers or by word class

• support long-term retention of words

Word walls are often developed alongside the pupils but can also be created by the teacher. The aim is to generate vocabulary that may be in their spoken vocabulary but is not in their written vocabulary.

For example, below is a word bank related to a scary or haunted setting. The words were generated by looking at an image and listing what was seen.

Word bank with haunted background

In Building Academic Vocabulary, Doug Lemov describes a way of using words in a word bank on the whiteboard to support discussion and eventually to be used in writing.


Do you use word banks or word walls? How do you use them? Leave a comment to share your ideas

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This article is from the free online course:

An Introduction to Teaching Vocabulary

Babcock Education