A Picture is Worth a Thousand (Science Vocabulary) Words

  • student studying science words

Sixth-grade students at North Star Elementary are never going to forget learning ecosystem vocabulary through interactive science word walls.

Interactive word walls are not traditional word walls with word cards and definitions organized in alphabetical order. Interactive word walls “resemble graphic organizers, strategically target academic vocabulary, and are student generated” (Jackson & Narvaez, p. 43). Each sixth grade classroom has a bulletin board-sized illustration of an Ecosystem on a wall in their classroom. In the beginning, the word walls were big, mostly blank illustrations of grass, a tree, and the sun. As the class researches and needs a way to communicate a scientific idea, academic vocabulary is introduced and added to the wall by a sixth grader. The academic science vocabulary is attached to an illustration of the word in context. This helps the meaning of the word stick in the sixth-graders’ minds.

Each sixth grader has a miniature copy of the bulletin board-sized word wall in their science journals. Here, they collect the new science vocabulary and add illustrations. The very visual, graphic organizer format of the word wall helps students visualize the word meaning and see connections between the scientific content through academic vocabulary. Science vocabulary is unforgettable.

Author: Ashlee Ekins, North Star Elementary

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