Q Do you use word walls in the Invisibles approach?
A. Working with emergent language in the way described in this book eliminates the need for the old pre-determined word walls. The message of those old style word walls was, “You don’t know these words, but if I put them in a list for everyone to see, you will learn them.” That message is not true. It is when we work with language that emerges from the students’ interests and imaginations that words are retained, and not because they are posted on a wall. When we listen to a symphony, we don’t post a list of all the musical notes which make it up on the wall. Just as musical notes can only exist in context, so also is it in context that we use and retain words for true enjoyment of the symphony that language can be.
Q I have to admit that my walls were getting kind of cluttered with words.
A. That’s another big reason not to use word walls. Plus, in order to be accurate they would have to be updated every day, which is impractical, but there are even more reasons not to use them.
Q. Like what?
A. Well, each student has a different rate of retention and ability to process, so that each would have a different relationship with the words on the wall. So they wouldn’t just clutter the wall – they would clutter the kids’ minds. Clutter is a big enemy in storytelling. Too many posters is a problem as well.
Q. What posters do you have up in your classroom?
A. The Classroom Rules, the Director’s Cues, the Art Galleries, and the number/color chart, Sabrina’s greetings list. I greatly value simplicity on the walls so that I now have more room for the students’ artwork – their characters and story boards.