Focus Wall

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Objective

SWBAT have a more structured day with the use of a focus wall.

Big Idea

Sometimes I need help to keep my focus... in order to help my students focus!

Why Have a Focus Wall?

1 minutes

The Focus Wall is something that is rather new for me in my classroom; however, it is now and will forever be a staple!  My Focus Wall is just for me and it is a place where I can remember my focus each day!  I LOVE IT!  My Focus Wall is something in my classroom that helps keep me on the right track and helps me hit the points I need to while teaching.  The Focus Wall also offers my classroom visitors an opportunity to easily see what we are and should be working on!  My Focus Wall is a quick, life-saving place for me (and others) to well, stay focused and I won't ever go without it again!

I can meet two standards with this Focus Wall daily!
1- I use the wall to meet Speaking and Listening standards- students listen to me introduce the skills listed on the Focus Wall and respond appropriately.
2- Slowly, students begin to use the wall.  Once they being reading, students love to find familiar terms, words and their vocabulary lists on this wall and start to pay attention to it for themselves!

Here is a little video explanation about why I use the focus wall each day.

What is on the Focus Wall?

5 minutes

My Focus Wall contains all of the needed information for a week in my ELA block!  The "wall" is the size of a small bulletin board, which is perfect for daily use (and decoration)!

Here is what I put on my focus wall:
The essential question for the week.
The main selection for the week.
   - The genre of the main selection.
   - The comprehension skill for the main selection.
The phonics skill for the week.
The grammar skill for the week.
The vocabulary words for the week.
The amazing words for the week.
The ELA standards for the whole unit (so I only have to create and put up one every 6 weeks).

This may seem like a lot to have on a small wall, but I LOVE it!  It is useful, a great and needed reminder, a visual for visitors and a decoration that students learn to love!

Here is a picture of what's included on my focus wall.

How do I Use the Focus Wall?

5 minutes

**I use the Focus Wall to introduce my lessons throughout the day.  I think this is important because it allows me to state my standards to my students.  Also, it allows me to use intentional speaking and listening statements.  My goal is to have my students truly listen to me voice the Common Core Standards and their components that we are working on; then, students repeat them as the mission introduction or closure for our lessons.  Basically, this Focus Wall allows me to have my students practice their speaking and listening skills while also working with the vocabulary of the Common Core State Standards while intermingled with content vocabulary.
   For example, when my focus wall says that we are working on the grammar skill of adjectives, I will say, "Now, we are going to work on adjectives.  Adjectives are words that describe nouns."  Then, I will have my students repeat what I have said as an introduction and a closure to the lesson.  I like that I can use the CCSS words as well as content vocabulary and have my students repeat this because it strengthens their speaking skills while also preparing them for their learning. 

**In addition, students are able to look at the Focus Wall and read it- this helps them practice their reading foundational skills daily.  In my classroom, when the Focus Wall changes each week, the students are very excited and look up to see what they will be learning about!  I love that it helps students get excited about their learning while encouraging them to read!

The Focus Wall in my classroom is strategically placed straight across from my rocking chair; that way, during whole group time, I can see exactly what I need to be referring to when I am talking to the students.  Typically, I look over to my focus wall before I begin each section of my whole group lesson and I use what I see to phrase my openings. 

For example, if I am about to open my lesson for grammar for the day, I might look over to the focus wall and see "Nouns- Nouns are people, places and things."  Then, I will phrase my opening using the terms from the Focus Wall (which came from my Teacher's Edition).  "Now, we have been learning a lot about nouns.  We are going to expand our learning a little bit more.  Let's review what nouns are before we get into our lesson; nouns are people, places or things..."

I love being able to look over at my Focus Wall to remind myself of everything I need to hit on and say to the students.  I also love the fact that the students notice when the focus wall changes; they even begin to attempt to read the Focus Wall for themselves to see what we will be working on!

Here is a video of how I use my focus wall.

Changing the Focus Wall

5 minutes

I change each aspect of my Focus Wall every Monday. 
With my series, Reading Street, there is a new story, comprehension skill, phonics skill, grammar skill and vocabulary list each week.  I hate to reinvent the wheel; with that being said, I purchased my Focus Wall elements from Khrys Bosland at TeachersPayTeachers.  This set included the materials for the entire year and I fully believe it was completely worth the investment for me to not have to stress about it myself!  The only part of my Focus Wall that I do have to make myself changes only once every 6 weeks!
The part of my Focus Wall that I make is my Reading Standards page- it shows all of the standards that we will be working on for the entire unit.  I hang it up because it helps me decide what to write and discuss when I am doing my Morning Message each day (which is located next to the Focus Wall)!

In the end, the 5 minutes that it takes to copy my Focus Wall and the 2 minutes it takes to hang it up each week is completely worth it.  Having this resource up for myself, visitors and students is really helpful and it is always good to pull out to refresh my brain each week as well! 
(Personally, I copy all of my Focus Wall pages on construction paper.  I do this so I can pull the pages off and file them to use again next year.  I personally have chosen not to laminate these pages because each week takes about 5 1/2 pages and that seems like a lot to me... but the construction paper works out just fine and I love that method!)