Word Walls in Senior High? Isn't that for babies?

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the importance of vocabulary instruction in senior high. It had been the forgotten teaching topic as we all focused on concepts and learning activities.

What we must keep in mind is that words are concepts; and, words are concepts loaded with meaning that needs to be remembered through learning activities in order for students to move on to newer concepts and activities. A common memory jolt is to make words memorable, repeatable, and fodder for integrated thought through positioning them all over the classroom. When someone looks at your word walls in senior high and comments, "Eeoouw . . . must be an elementary teacher trying to teach in this senior high classroom. We don't do that in junior/senior high!" then pull out what you've learned from these items below to justify your actions. Remember it's all about doing what's right for the students. Vocabulary development IS important.

Word Walls for Senior High

1. Brown, J. (2007). Building Powerful Word Walls in Every PAISD Classroom. This is a Powerpoint with  word wall principles and photos from elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.

2. Cronsberry, J. (2004). Word Walls: A Support for Literacy in Secondary School Classrooms

3. Grimes, P. (2009). Connecting Adolescents with Texts: Word Walls to Boost Content Comprehension. The Virginia English Bulletin, 59(1), 39-43.

4. Harmon et al. (2009). Interactive Word Walls: More Than Just Reading the Writing on the Walls.  Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(5), 398-408.

5. An online resource for pre/during/post reading activities to interact with word walls for secondary students:

6. The Word Station: Interactive Word Walls for Learning SAT Words

7. Think Lit Word Walls in Content Areas:

8. YouTube: Word Walls in Secondary Schools
(word sorts, concept maps, relational diagrams, List/Group/Label, Wordle)


Are You Ready?

The first wave of job hires is now coming to a close. What is that wave? Teachers are encouraged, if they are sure, to hand in their papers for retirement early, usually by the end of January, rather than waiting until May. Some school divisions even provide a bonus of $1000 or so to encourage this. So, why is the early letter important to divisions? The answer is that the division cannot advertise for positions that do not exist even if they anticipate an opening. So, if a teacher's retirement or resignation letter comes in earlier then the division can hire the best candidates before they are snapped up by others. This period of time when you could be an early hire is coming to a close. There are advantages and disadvantages to taking a job early. First, you do not worry about where you will be working and you can spend the latter part of your teacher education focused on materializing your goals for your first job. Second advantage is that you do not have to beat the pavement to network yourself into the system wondering about your future. Third, you will not be lured into becoming a full-time substitute teacher since good, reliable, talented substitutes are not always easy to find and you will be a valuable commodity as a substitute when you really want a full-time teaching position.

The advantages of not being hired in the first wave are first, that you will not have to see your dream job come up and then not be able to even apply for it because you have already signed a contract. Second, you will experience the interview process a few times and learn how to land a job. This experience should never be undervalued since it will provide knowledge for the next job you try for. Third, the most interesting jobs come up after May and you now have a variety of jobs to look into. Never feel dismayed if you do not catch the second wave after the end of May. There is a third wave, too.

Over the years I have found that some of the plumb first-year teacher jobs come up at the end of August/beginning of September. If you missed the first wave, and the second, then do not be discouraged. Sometimes someone has to move at the last minute in August because of a spouse's job change. Sometimes, someone falls ill and a new teacher has to be found at the last minute. The thing I am telling you about here is always be ready. Have your resume polished at all times. Keep your interview outfit clean and pressed in the closet. Prepare how you would go to an interview at the drop of a hat. Use feeds to automatically have ads sent to your email. Have contacts in divisions alert you about any positions coming up. Don't wait for someone to call. Be a sleuth and be ready. Your dream job awaits, but you must be ready.

Please look at the "Get a Job" page at the top for typical interview questions, resume & cover letter templates, and job links.