Putting together a focus wall is a great way to display learning, so I wanted to share with you a few tips & ideas on how to put one together to fit your classroom!
Why Should I Use a Focus Wall?
I like to think of focus walls as the “hub” or reference center for my students. It’s a place for them to constantly refer back to content so it really STICKS! As a teacher, I like to use them as well because they help me stay focused and remember what’s most important, too!
What Do I Display?
I’ve done it a few different ways, but I’ve found the most success creating a focus wall that I only have to change a few things out every few weeks. There’s already so much on our plates as teachers, so I knew this needed to be something I could realistically keep up with!
I like to use the miniature $1 pocket charts from Target to add vocabulary words, sight words, spelling words, phonics skills… you name it! This makes it easy to change out the cards without worrying about stapling everything. PLUS, when you introduce something new for the week, like sight words for example, you can have a student do the job for you. This helps them take ownership of the wall and recognize that this wall changes as we learn new content!
This pocket chart was perfect for hanging our math vocabulary for various units!
Every week we change out these phonics posters (printed mini-sized) to match our skills for the week. I used to have a long, narrow bulletin board across one wall of my classroom where I would hang previous skills. You can also add them onto a binder ring to use in your word work center or small groups!
How Much Space Do I Need?
Honestly, dedicate one bulletin board for your focus wall (or two if you want to separate math & ELA), and LEAVE THEM BLANK at the beginning of the year! Hang up an empty pocket chart or two, but then wait to use it and add the learning to the wall WITH your students. I like to hang up these headers (shown below) to label everything, but we add all of the content as a class!
A few years ago I used a giant chalkboard in my room and divided it in thirds with bulletin board borders so I could have space for math, ELA, and science/social studies, but that wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. Honestly, it was too much! I’ve found the most success just having one or two in my room (Math & ELA).
Focus walls don’t have to be huge AT ALL. Even if you just want a small space for displaying vocabulary words or anchor chart(s) for what you’re working on, a focus wall is great place for it.
Need Focus Wall Resources?
Here’s a list of some classroom resources that are great if you’re trying to put together a focus wall in your classroom!