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Working Walls

What are working walls?

A working wall is an interactive display that teachers use in their classroom to help support and motivate children with their learning. They are very different to displays which celebrate neat, finished pieces of work from the end of a unit. Instead they are more like a 'working document' which are added to throughout a unit as learning progresses. Indeed, a good working wall will begin almost blank at the start of a unit but by the end will show each step in the learning journey.

The classroom environment is a powerful learning tool and working walls can very much be part of this. By looking at a working wall, children can be reminded of what they have learnt, see good models of how to do something or what they are aiming for and find useful vocabulary. They may also be used in an interactive way in which children's ideas may be displayed. Sticky notes can be really useful for this.

Traditional displays, where children's work is mounted neatly and displayed on a more permanent basis, are still incredibly valuable in the primary classroom and should not be forgotten. This type of display helps to set the high standard of work expected and can help give learning a purpose. It is also incredibly motivational for a child to see something they have made taken and displayed by their teacher.

Working walls classroom

What makes a good working wall?

The first thing to say is that working walls are completely pointless if they are put up at the end of a unit of work. This defeats the point of them. Instead, teachers should add to them throughout the unit. They might, for example, pin up modelled writing created in the lesson as an example for children to refer back to. Vocabulary to be used in a lesson could be written down and displayed on the working wall and referred to throughout the lesson and subsequent lessons.

Working walls therefore should not take much teacher-time to create. By using what has already been created in the classroom, no additonal materials need be created for much of the display. Some photocopying of children's work or printing out of photographs may need to take place.

Included on a working wall could be the following things:

1. Vocabulary - Vocabulary that is introduced to the children could be written on cards and displayed on the learning wall with their definition. These words may be from a text that is linked to the unit or topic specific words that children need to know.

2. Learning objectives - It is also a good idea to display the learning objectives that have been covered over the unit. These could be added to after each lesson. In that way, children can see how their learning has progressed and it will also be a useful reminder for elements needed in the finished piece.

3. Good examples for children to refer to. For example, on an English working wall there may be modelled writing used in a lesson with its key features picked out. On a DT working wall there could be examples of good design work with annotations.

4. Useful resources and scaffolding - Wordbanks, worked examples of questions, synonyms, sentence starters etc can all be displayed on the working wall so children can refer to these when doing their own work. You may even have a table in front of your working wall on which useful books and other resources could be stored and easily accessed by the children. The interactive nature of working walls helps encourage children to be independent.

It is also important to say that a working wall should ideally be used by the teacher within the lesson. Therefore, if it is somewhere at the front of the class the teacher can move between the working wall and the main board easily. There is not much point having this sort of display tucked around a corner where no one can really see it!

Maths working walls

What might be included on a Maths working wall?

  • Worked examples of calculation methods.
  • Photos of children using concrete resources to act as a reminder.
  • Key vocabulary with definitions.
  • Photocopies of childrens whiteboard work or work from their book.
  • Flipchart paper used within lessons to model, for example, calculation methods to the class.
  • Resources children can access to support their mathematical thinking e.g. place value equipment, number lines, times table squares etc.

English working walls

What might be included on an English working wall?

  • Modelled writing created by the teacher with the children.
  • Photocopies of children's writing which shows good use of the key features of the text type.
  • Word banks and key vocabulary
  • Success criteria for the wriitng genre being covered
  • Sentence starters
  • Photos of drama work and any writing or ideas collected as part of this.


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