Word Walls

In this post, I want to show you some of the math word walls I have made over the years for elementary, middle and high school math.

In this post, I want to show you the math word walls I've made over the years for 2nd grade through algebra 2, financial literacy and the unit circle. Each now comes in both print and digital form.

My first introduction to math word walls came from a teacher who taught in a classroom next to mine. As part of his classroom setup, he had created a hand-drawn, floor-to-ceiling math word wall that covered all of the formulas his sophomores would need to know for their state test. At the time, I thought it was a little much. I mean, wasn't this high school? A few years later, he went on to become Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, and I went on to realize how right he had been after giving math word walls a try in my own classroom. Here is one of my first math word walls:

Here is a photo of one of my first math word walls. The slope, y = mx + b, exponents and Pemdas posters are made from cut paper.
One of my first math word walls

I had spent seven years teaching general education high school math, and one year teaching 8th grade algebra, before heading back to high school to teach inclusion and applied algebra 2. That year, I found myself drawing linear graphs over and over again to help my students make links back to what they had learned in algebra. This led to one of my first printed math word wall references:

This photo shows the printed linear graph reference I had made for my algebra 2 students to help them remember what they had learned in algebra 1
Part of an algebra word wall

After posting photos of my math word walls on social media, I started hearing from teachers who wanted versions for their own elementary, middle and high school math classrooms. 

Algebra Word Wall - print and digital
Part of an algebra word wall

In this post, I want to show you the math word walls I have made for my own classroom and those I've made from teacher requests. Each is available in printable color, printable black & white and no-prep digital in Google Slides. All 3 versions come together in the same file.

4th Grade Math Word Wall - print and digital
part of a 4th grade math word wall


MATH WORD WALLS


"I love these math word walls! They are not just typical posters of words, diagrams, and definitions. The layering of arrows, words, and diagrams make the topics pop--the student has to think about connections, rather than just read." - Marcia

exponential growth visual on an algebra 2 math word wall
part of an algebra 2 word wall

I have also included images of the digital math word wall updates every word wall has recently gotten, as well as some of the beautiful math word wall photos teachers have sent to me over the years. 

Wait, did you say "digital math word wall"? I did! In 2020, I updated every math word wall with links to no-prep digital versions in Google Slides. As a teacher, I rely pretty heavily on my math word wall, so I knew I needed to do something for both students and teachers who may feel the same way. I needed to figure out how to make portable, digital math vocabulary references that could be accessed online, if necessary.

linear equations reference on a digital algebra word wall
(each digital image enlarges when clicked) 

After a lot of thinking, I settled on compiling real images into Google Slides and making them clickable so that students could zoom in on the references they needed. The digital versions are all now included in with their printable PDF versions. Every word wall has been updated. Teachers are sending the digital versions to students and even projecting them onto their white boards. They've proven to be handy on-the-go math vocabulary references.

area formulas word wall
area word wall

To date, I have made math word walls for 2nd grade through algebra 2, the unit circle and financial literacy. Most have come from teacher requests after I had posted photos of my algebra and algebra 2 word walls on social media. 

If you are looking for written definitions of the vocabulary words, they won't be here. I have found math word walls showing concepts in action, instead of explicit written definitions, allow more students to access the math vocabulary. With 15-20% of our kids having reading difficulties (and up to 80% in students with specific learning disabilities), showing the concepts in context allows more students to make the connections that are critical for conceptual understanding.

This photo shows part of a 2nd grade word wall. It comes separately and also as part of a bundle of math word walls for grade 2 through grade 5.
part of a 2nd grade math word wall

This gives more students access to the math, especially our visual learners, students with reading disabilities and English Language Learners.

nets on a 6th grade math word wall
nets on a 6th grade math word wall

In my experience as a general education, inclusion and special education teacher, an effective word wall shows examples and pictures. If we are learning about shifting a quadratic function in vertex form, for example, I can quickly point to our wall to remind students which way the vertex will shift. This ability has immeasurably supported my classroom management and helped me keep my students on track. Because I know that these word walls work, I think hard about how I can remove all unnecessary words and make the visuals as clear and as descriptive as possible.

6th Grade Math Word Wall | Scaffolded Math and Science
part of a 6th grade math word wall

Presenting vocabulary in this way increases math confidence and lowers math anxiety in students who struggle with reading, while still communicating the vocabulary just as effectively, if not better. 

area and perimeter on a 3rd grade math word wall
part of a 3rd grade math word wall

My students reference our walls during independent work and I reference them during lessons, especially when needing to make a connection back to a previous topic or moving a student past confusion.

graphing systems on an algebra word wall
part of an algebra word wall

With pictures, examples and reminders, math is more accessible to more students.

triangle sums in an 8th grade math word wall (also added to the Geometry word wall)
part of a geometry word wall

Students can find the information they need more independently, which leads to greater feelings of confidence and success. To me, confidence in math is everything. In my own classroom, I can focus on the students who need more intense help while directing others to use the walls for help.

exponential functions parent graph on an algebra 2 word wall
part of an algebra 2 word wall

Whenever a student was confused, I used to stop class to catch up that student. This, of course, gave a sense of free time to the rest of the class, and reeling everyone back in became time-consuming and pretty frustrating.

Pythagorean Theorem word wall
Pythagorean Theorem

I know that when a student is confused her learning stops. That student won't hear anything else I say until her question is answered. This is why I would always stop to answer student questions. With visual aids on the walls, I can now point at a reference and get that student over his hurdle a lot faster. 

middle school math word wall ideas
part of a 6th grade math word wall

Even with lots of encouraging that their voices matter, some of my students wouldn't speak up when they had a question. Adding visual supports to our classroom walls has given all of my students, and maybe especially these students, the tools to help them take charge of their education.

circles on a Geometry Word Wall
part of a geometry word wall

Seeking out and finding answers to their questions on their own by using our classroom word walls is empowering. This is one of my favorite things about math word walls.

linear equations references on an Algebra 1 word wall
part of an algebra word wall

I've written a lot about math word walls on my blog over the years. The post 5 Ways Math Word Walls Have Changed My Teaching highlights the 5 major benefits I have seen in my teaching and my students' learning since adding math word walls to our classroom walls:

◉ Greater student independence
◉ Keeping the class on track
◉ They make a classroom inviting
◉ Connections to previous topics
◉ Low floor, high ceiling

quadratic graphs on an algebra word wall
part of an algebra word wall

That last reason is probably the most important impact I have seen since adding a word wall to our classroom. The supports are there for kids who need them, allowing more students to feel that maybe math is for them after all.

Financial Literacy Word Wall | Scaffolded Math and Science
part of a financial literacy word wall

Allowing all students access into our curriculum by offering visual supports has allowed more of my students to feel successful in math. To me this is a huge part of being a math teacher. I need my students to know that math is for everyone.

probability on a 7th Grade Math Word Wall
part of a 7th grade math word wall

Teachers have sent so many photos of their math word walls and every one of the photos has been different, even using the same pieces. They have been so fun to see.

fraction visuals on a 4th grade math word wall
part of a 4th grade math word wall

In every one of the photos that teachers have sent, the pieces are arranged differently, based on student need and teacher preference. Sometimes teachers choose to display only the current topics. Other times, teachers choose to display their entire math word wall at once. This is really up to you. Personally, I like having everything up at once. Going back to my quadratics example, later in the school year we'd learn to graph radical functions. During that unit, I could point back to our quadratic example and say, "Even though this function is different, you've done this before." This lowers student anxiety to let the information seep in. Here are just a few of the photos teachers have sent:

Ms. Napoli's math word wall
Ms. Napoli's math word wall

I love how Ms. Napoli's math word wall pops with the black bulletin board paper as a background.

Ms. Davenport's math word wall
Ms. Davenport's math word wall

Yellow! Ms. Davenport's math classroom is so cheery with her yellow display.

Ms. Estrada's box and whisker's plot
Ms. Estrada's box and whisker's plot

Ms. Estrada arranged the pieces of her 6th grade math word wall's box and whiskers plot onto blue paper to make a poster that can easily be taken down and put back up when needed.

part of an algebra 2 word wall - parent graphs for constant functions
part of an algebra 2 word wall (digital version)

Here is a photo of one of the digital word wall references. I put them in frames to make them fancier. I guess that was the only real reason, to be honest. I liked how they looked that way. With the digital word walls, I wanted students to almost feel they were in a real classroom, which is why I chose to make the digital versions with real photographs.

part of a unit circle word wall
part of a unit circle word wall

Here is a reference for the Unit Circle.

place value on a 4th grade math word wall
part of a 4th grade math word mall

And place value in a 4th grade math word wall.

box and whiskers on a 6th grade math word wall
part of a 6th grade math word wall

And the ever-present box and whiskers plot.


Every math word wall comes in printable color, black & white and interactive digital in Google Slides. The Google Slides versions can be downloaded as PowerPoint files if you are not in a Google school.


Math word wall downloads:








"This product keeps getting better and better! I colored a lot of them last summer, then the color versions came out! and now the digital versions! This resource has been incredibly helpful to have up and reference and add to during the year. I worked with students who struggled and students who accelerated, this was a great resource for all of them!" -Chelsie S


Free extras:

15 comments:

  1. I am starting my nd year teaching 6th grade English in a small bilingual school in Mexico. The pay is small, but I found your Instagram and am so grateful! What you provide is going to change my students to amazing students. Thank you!

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    1. Please send me a message on Instagram, I'd love to follow you too! I hope you have a wonderful year!

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  2. How do you attach these to the wall?

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    1. Hi Mary, in my classroom I used the blue Loctite putty. For heavier posters, teachers have even used a strip of blue painter's tape on the wall then hot glue between the painter's tape and the poster they are hanging. This way the hot glue doesn't come in contact with the wall. Other teachers have used Command Strips, but I haven't given these a try.

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  3. Hi! These would be so wonderful if you would have them in Spanish. They'd be a best seller.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! Many of the word walls do have Spanish vocabulary words included.

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  4. What size to you print the words and graphics? I have your word wall packets but have not used them because not knowing how to print in larger size.

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    1. Hi Jolene,

      Everything prints on regular computer paper. If it was before fall when you purchased, you can re-download to get the new color versions. -Shana

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  5. Thank you very much for these. I have been using your materials for a couple of years but have never said thank you. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for coming back to leave a comment! This means a lot. I hope your year is going well!

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  6. You're very talented with such a vast amount of resource knowledge to include in word walls. I will be buying the 6th grade for sure next paycheck...

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  7. These are so amazing but I noticed it starts at 2nd grade. Is there way you have a 1st grade one. I teach first grade and the 2nd grade one already jumps to the hundreds in the examples while 1st grade we teach similar concepts in 2nd but not as high.

    Thank you for your time

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    1. My daughter is in 1st this year. I've been slowly putting together references for her and that I can eventually compile into a 1st grade word wall. I'd love to work with you on this, if you are willing. I know how busy you are, so no problem if the answer is no. My worry with "little kid math" is always that I will get it wrong, so like to work closely with experts! My email is shana@scaffoldedmath.com.

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  8. I ma trying to enter into a job as Teacher Education Specialist under USAID Bangladesh that involves students in primary level. I feel that this will help me in the vent of I am selected by USAID for the job. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete