Word Walls in Social Studies: One Solution to the "Vocabulary Conundrum"

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Julia Kearney and Lori Bingham (pseudonyms), two middle school social studies teachers in a large urban school, have a problem. They want to have their students asking and exploring important questions about American history, and they want them to have the vocabulary knowledge needed to do so. While Julia and Lori recognize the rich linguistic resources their students bring to their classrooms, they also recognize the intense vocabulary demands of social studies. Julia and Lori recently participated in a professional learning initiative to develop research-based approaches for building students’ academic vocabulary knowledge in social studies. They learned about the potential of strategic word walls, in general, and in social studies, and the instructional routines that can grow out of them.

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