I’ve talked before about how to set up your French sound wall, but what do you do once it’s put together? And why are they so important to your literacy instruction? The last thing you want to do is put it up in your classroom and then never use it. Your students won’t use it either if you do that!
I want to dive into how sound walls support your French phonics instruction and some simple ways you can use it daily inside your classroom to support both reading and writing.
Tip #1: Put up the Entire French Sound Wall at Once
It might be tempting only to add a French phonics sound or rule once you’ve taught it, but when you really think about it, does that make sense? Just because you haven’t taught the sound doesn’t mean it ceases to exist and that your students won’t need access to it.
Instead, I like to put all the sounds on the sound wall, but I do differentiate between the ones we’ve learned and those we haven’t. When we learn a sound, I add the colour version of the card. When we haven’t learned it yet, I put it on the board in black and white.
Tip #2: Refer Back to the Sound Wall
Once you have the sound wall up, you don’t want it to sit there like a piece of decoration. Students won’t learn their French phonics that way, and they’ll never use it if you don’t! Instead, you want it to become an interactive part of your classroom.
You can refer to the sound wall when reading, working in small groups, during whole class instruction, writing instruction, and more. The more you use it, the more students will begin to use it on their own. The key here is to model, model, model! Teach them how to use it to find what they need.
Tip #3: It’s Not Just a Reading Tool
Sound walls don’t just help students sound out words or master reading, they also help with writing and spelling. To build this habit, use the sound wall during writing lessons to help students spell words and edit their work. I’ll refer back to it and ask them questions like: “what letters make the sound /ou/ like in hibou?”
This also means you have to be diligent about teaching students to look for sounds and practice sounding out words (or else the sound wall is meaningless). This can be done with orthographic mapping. Ask students, “What letter combination makes the sound /ou/?”
You can also use the sound wall for more advanced spelling techniques. You can talk about how there are several different ways to spell the same sound, such as /o/ being spelled like o, au, and eau. I focus less on whether students spell correctly in the beginning and more on if they identified the sound correctly. This tells you a lot about their comprehension.
Creating a Sound Wall
Want to create a French sound wall in your classroom? This French Sound Wall resource has everything you need to make the board simple to put together and easy to maintain.
It includes 47 sound posters (in both colour and black and white), student reference pages for their notebooks, 91 word cards, bulletin board headers, and more. If you laminate the cards, you can easily use this display year after year!
Having a sound wall in your classroom can really change how well your students read, write, and spell. It’s all about using it! I hope these tips were helpful in utilizing sound walls in a simple yet effective way.