High School Math Word Wall Ideas

Adding a math word wall to your bulletin board is a great use of empty space. In this post are photos of high school math word walls for algebra, geometry and algebra 2.

When I taught math in Boston my classroom was next to a Geometry teacher who had a math word wall that spread just about floor to ceiling. At the time I thought it was a bit extreme. I mean, aren't high school kids a little old for so many visuals? Did they really need all that?

Here is a photo of an algebra word wall
part of an Algebra Word Wall

Well, my teacher neighbor went on to become Teacher of the Year and I went on to realize how powerful math word walls are - especially those that show math vocabulary in context.

free volume and surface area math word wall references
free math word wall for 3-D shapes

Before landing that first full-time teaching job, I was a substitute teacher for a year. I'll never forget a job I took in a kindergarten class. The letter of the day was K. Some kids could write "kite", "kat" (English is so weird), while other kids couldn't even write a K. 

sequences on an Algebra Word Wall
part of an Algebra Word Wall

The discrepancy in abilities I saw that day in kids so young completely blew my mind. If there was such a large span of abilities in five year olds, what about in 15, 16, 17, 18 year olds? And how would I reach them?

nonlinear graph anchor chart examples on an Algebra 2 word wall

In all of our classrooms there is a wide range of abilities. Some kids are above grade level while others may be years behind. What I like the most about math word walls is that they are always there offering information to students who need it. 

A unit circle math bulletin board reference
part of a Unit Circle Word Wall

Whether they are too shy to ask a question or need a quick reminder, or maybe they have a hard time concentrating so do a lot of looking around the room. While they are glancing around, maybe they'll learn something new. Word walls allow kids to access the curriculum at their level and continue to offer support every day. I write more about this in the post 5 Ways Math Word Walls Have Changed My Teaching.

exponential functions parent graph in an algebra 2 word wall
part of an Algebra 2 Word Wall

In this post I'll share photos of my own classroom's word walls (like the photo at the top) as well as photos of word walls I have made for teachers by request. This post is linked in 8 Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Teaching Algebra and Geometry on the We Are Teachers blog.

Digital Math Word Walls

I also recently updated all of my high school math word walls with no-prep digital versions built in Google Slides. 

digital Algebra 2 word wall
Digital algebra 2 word wall

They are clickable in GOOGLE Slides or can be downloaded as PowerPoint or PDF files and still be interactive. Above is the home screen of a digital algebra 2 word wall. Each image clicks to an enlarged version. The word wall is also included as print color and print black and white.

Algebra word wall
part of an Algebra Word Wall

My teacher back in Boston neighbor was absolutely right in putting it all out there like that. If you think about it, there's a measly 5 year age difference between a 4th grader and a 9th grader. Yes, kids do grow quick, but what is it about those 5 short years that suddenly allows students to remember and recall everything and no longer need visual reminders? 

This algebra 2 reference helps students remember the steps to graph polynomial functions
part of an Algebra 2 Word Wall

When my husband moved from teaching elementary school to high school he was a little worried. I told him that high schoolers are just little kids in big bodies. It's true! They still need the support of word walls as much as the little ones do. 

For me, adding math classroom decor to my walls not only made my classroom a more inviting place to learn, it also made it one giant reference sheet. This immediately lowered my students' anxiety levels to where memorization and past misconceptions were no longer sticking points. 

high school math word wall and the fridge bulletin board

Since starting at my current school, I have taught Geometry, Biology, Consumer Math and Algebra 2. Since Algebra 1 is so important, we have references for it too. Here are some photos of the word walls in my classroom.

parallel lines cut by a transversal anchor chart on a Geometry word wall

Here you can see an anchor chart for drawing and naming points, lines and segments. I made the parallel lines cut by a transversal poster below it from cut paper. 

free poster and coloring activity for parallel lies cut by a transversal
Free parallel lines cut by a transversal poster

This parallel lines cut by a transversal poster was one I made for a class of sophomore study skills students who were taking Geometry. Many of them were mixing up the angle pairs. So I made this poster for them to put in their notebooks (above is the enlarged version).   

I also converted it to work on GOOGLE Slides as a digital angle pairs poster

Geometry Word Wall

I recently made a Geometry word wall and a super sweet teacher sent me this photo of it hanging in her classroom. Here is my own photo of some of the included parts up close:

Geometry Word Wall
part of a Geometry Word Wall

Here is a closeup of the transformations section:

transformations on a Geometry word wall
part of a Geometry Word Wall

Next up is our wall of Algebra, Geometry and Algebra 2 formulas. I like to think of this wall as "the hodgepodge", though I have since updated most of my math word walls.

Algebra formulas on an algebra word wall

The PEMDAS, slope formula, y=mx+b, and green exponents posters are all also made from cut colored paper like the angle pairs poster in the previous photo. Here's a close up of the exponents posters:

exponent rules anchor charts on an Algebra word wall

This exponent rules posters is made out of cut paper too. I added exponent rules into my 8th grade math word wall. Here is a photo of some of the graphing references included. You can also see all of the middle school math word walls I have made in the post Middle School Math Word Wall Ideas.

8th grade math word wall

An scatter plots:

8th grade math word wall

This PEMDAS mobile was a recent addition.

free order of operations mobile
Free PEMDAS mobile

Our Algebra 2 word wall has grown a lot over the years. Teachers have asked me to make parent graphs for nonlinear functions and also expand the word wall in other areas. It's gone through a lot of updates! :) Here's a photo of our reference for quadratics.

high school Math word wall
part of an Algebra 2 Word Wall

And of course we need a Quadratic Formula anchor chart. My students were able to use this one a lot more effectively once I added the white-out to the a, b and c in the formula. You can read more about our quadratics activities in the post Fun with Quadratics

Quadratic formula anchor chart

We teach a lot of vertex form in Algebra 2 so we reference these 3 anchor charts on our Algebra 2 word wall for nonlinear equations all year. These are updated printable versions of cut paper versions I finally retired this year. It was time. 

3 nonlinear function anchor charts on an Algebra 2 word wall
part of an Algebra 2 Word Wall

I love catching students glancing at our word walls for hints. To me, knowing how to access information is just as important as the information itself. Every year I add more and more to our classroom word walls. The more I add, the better things get. 

One of the free quadratics math posters that worked especially well during our combined graphing calculator/projectile motion unit - a unit that is VERY hard at first for my students - was this one.

projectile motion quadratics poster

It shows good cursor placements for finding maximum points and zeros. My students get confused by "left bound" and "right bound" and this poster all but completely eliminates this confusion. 

factoring quadratics anchor charts

These factoring anchor charts hang in my room to remind my students how to factor trinomials and binomials. I always find my students have a harder time retaining how to factor binomials than trinomials! 

FREE math pennants

In an earlier post I wrote about our classroom Fridge, an area in our classroom where students are invited to display their hard work. I am always surprised that even my seniors would rather hang their work in our classroom than take it home. Math pennants are another fun way to display student work. See more math pennants.

math vocabulary language of math poster on our math word wall

Having a language of math poster has helped so much, especially for those small but powerful words like "of" and "is". When kids start seeing Math as a language that can be translated into symbols... WHOA watch out World! :) 

A visual reference for function transformations in the coordinate plane. Absolute value, radical and quadratic graph examples are shown along with the transformation rules to help students visualize how the functions change. At the end of the poster is a summary covering:  f(x) + c  f(x) - c  f(x + c)  f(x - c)  f(-x)  -f(x)  af(x)  f(ax)  This is a 2-page poster that can be printed on regular, 8.5" x 11" computer paper and connected together with tape or a glue stick. There are directions inside for where to cut page 1 and attach it to page 2 to make the long poster.
Function transformations poster

With references on the walls I feel like a better teacher and my students feel less anxious and more confident in their ability to do hard math. The more I add to my classroom walls the more empowered my students feel and become. 

Math word wall posts:

Digital Math Word Walls

All math word walls

Math word wall downloads:

Unit Circle Word Wall

Adding a math word wall to your bulletin board is a great use of empty space. In this post are photos of high school math word walls for algebra, geometry and algebra 2.


Erika said...

Do you keep these up all year or change them up throughout? I love this!

ScaffoldedMath said...

We end up piling papers on top of others as the year goes on. A lot of the magnets are those really strong small ones that you get at hubby stores (at least that's where my husband got them before I stole them:). My classes are small so this probably works better than if I had 5 classes of 30 kids each. I can imagine things getting a little crazy then!

Unknown said...

Do you start off the year blank? And as the year goes on add stuff as you cover content? I would love to do something like this this year. The kids appreciate an awesome looking classroom like this!

Thanks for the ideas!!

ScaffoldedMath said...

Hi Elizabeth! I leave it all up all year. This way I figure it may add a little background knowledge (or at least some familiarity) before we get to the topic.

Unknown said...

Hi! I was wondering what you do during assessments? Do you cover the word walls?

ScaffoldedMath said...

Hi Anmaree, To me, knowing how to access and use information is more important than memorization. I never cover them up. That being said, I would have to cover them if my kids had to take state exams. I'm lucky that I teach 11th and 12th grades and our state exams end in 10th grade.

Mrs. Saeli said...

How about 6 classes of 30-38?! :(

ScaffoldedMath said...

I can't even imagine. I had a class larger than that once... it was impossible for me to find any success when there weren't even enough seats. To have 6 classes that large? I commend you!

Betsy Potash said...

Wow, I love this! Making a creative and informative space is so fantastic at all levels.

ScaffoldedMath said...

Thank you so much Betsy! It makes teaching a whole lot easier too:) Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

Unknown said...

do you have math pennant i know angle pairs for umber 11 and 12

ScaffoldedMath said...

I do! You can check this one out here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Angle-Pair-Relationships-Pennant-2541942

Lillian said...

Do you have pictures of your biology word wall?

ScaffoldedMath said...

I don't have a word wall for Biology but what a good idea!

Dawn said...

Thank you so much for this post as I am just starting to brainstorm ideas for a word wall in my high school math classroom.

ScaffoldedMath said...

Hi Dawn!

Did you get your word wall going this year? I’d love to hear an update!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing. I love all of these ideas! I am starting with a complete blank slate this year as I am moving back into the classroom (I have been the district special education coordinator for the past few years). I will be teaching 6 hours of resource room at the HS level and all different classes. I am so excited!

Mrs. Saeli said...

I wanted to let you know a mobile I added using your PEMDAS mobile. I made a second copy of it and hung it in reverse order, to reference the steps to isolate a variable. I tell the students "When we sssssSolve for x, use ssssssSADMEP". It was a great help this year!

Jen said...

How do you stick them on the wall? Do you print on regular paper or cardstock?

Unknown said...

I just purchased your Geometry and Algebra Word wall sets. I am entering my 10th year of teaching and wanted something fresh. Very excited to see what kind of impact it will make on my students. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Where is your word wall in the classroom? Front, side or back of the room?

ScaffoldedMath said...

Congratulations on your new job, Madelyn! I hope you have your best year yet!

ScaffoldedMath said...

Thank you so much Stephanie! Adding word walls to my classroom helped my students and my teaching so much. I hope that you find the same to be true and that you have an amazing 10th year! Now that is an accomplishment!

ScaffoldedMath said...

Thank you for asking, Mary. I put word wall references on the sides and front of the room. The back of my room is all windows (otherwise I may have covered it, too:). I try to group similar topics together.

ScaffoldedMath said...

Hi Jen, I print on regular computer paper and then laminate so that they can be moved and are more durable. Amy from the blog What Happens in First Grade has a great tip about using blue painter's tape and hot glue to stick things to the wall. I linked her blog post in #6 in this FAQ list: https://scaffoldedmath.blogspot.com/2018/08/math-word-wall-frequently-asked-questions.html

ScaffoldedMath said...

I love that for isolating variables, Mrs. Saeli! Thank you for sharing your idea!

Jen Ryan said...

I have one of your word wall bundles and LOVE them. Do you plan to add anything covering radical expressions, arithmetic/geometric sequence/series, permutations, combinations?

ScaffoldedMath said...

Thank you for your question, Jen. I have slowly been adding to all of my math word walls and I will add these to the list. Thank you for the suggestions. I hope you have a great school year.

ScaffoldedMath said...

HI Jen, thank you for your patience. I added algebraic and geometric sequence references to the Algebra word wall today. If you go into your purchases and re-download the Algebra word wall, the new pages will be at the end. -Shana

Unknown said...

I used SADMEP last year and it was great!! This year one of my students came up with "Climb the ladder of PEMDAS" so I created a picture with a ladder with P then E, then MD, then AS, and we "start at the bottom and 'climb the ladder of PEMDAS'" I love it, still waiting to see if my students remember it that way.

ScaffoldedMath said...

I love the “Climb the ladder of PEMDAS” analogy! So good. Back when MySpace was a thing, I could reference “add me” and kids knew what I was talking about. So I’d use “PSADME” as an undoing of PEMDAS. I used to teach distributing into parenthesis as part of equation solving, which it can be, but I like your acronym better because of how we can ofteb solve equations without distributing. Thank you for commenting!