Using the Upper Elementary Language Wall in a Hybrid Model

I'm passionate about many things (educational engagement, my family, Diet Coke...) but a huge one of those things is instilling a love of the written word in my students.

When you love words, you want to learn more.  And to learn more, you read more.

It's this hugely winning cycle that sets students up for lifelong success.

And so, when I knew we'd be returning face to face BUT in a two cohort model, I had to get creative in order to accomplish non-negotiable, valuable student-centered learning activities.

Such as the language wall.

Now, to hear more about our current setting, you can click HERE to read more.

Essentially, I have two groups each day and I see them Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I only see ONE cohort on Wednesday and it alternates.

Therefore, I knew it would only be realistic, for a sense of cohesion, to do language wall four days a week.

If you're interested in a pre-pandemic language wall (there's a sentence I've never written before!), you can read all about it HERE.  I have full faith that we will, in due time, get back to this.  However, we have happily and heartily embraced this new model and these routines have become regular.

They are learning and thriving and I so often wish I could film them so you could see.

Let's go through our week.  Remember, if you are virtual, this resource IS now digital, too!


Because I have two groups, I now write it out on two posters.  I found tag board in the workroom and it's perfect.  Group A is on top, held up with magnets, and Group B is taped on the board underneath.

We use the worksheet in HERE all week long.

While they are fully and completely capable of writing the sentence down themselves, I often (this year) write it for them.  This saves time.  If I do it ahead of time, I just have copies ready to go.

I pass these out and they take a moment to label as much as they notice or know.

It will be slow in the beginning but it will quickly pick up pace because each week is all things spiral, reteach, practice, and challenge.

After a few moments, I read them the mentor text.  If I don't own it OR if I just want to switch things up, I'll show it to them on YouTube.  There are so many great books recorded these days!

They listen for the mentor sentence and excitedly raise their hand(s) when they hear it read aloud.

Once the text is done, I give them about 3 more minutes to add any last minute labels or notes.

Then, this paper goes in their unfinished work folder.

I display the book right on our front board.  THESE magnetic shelves are perfect!

Given the length of the picture book, this entire day can be anywhere from 10-16 minutes.


It's our sharing out day and, arguably, the best day!

While we can't use the moveable pieces in the traditional sense (move to label), we definitely can use them as guides and inspiration.

My students get their paper back out and volunteer to share out something they found.

I have them use their own markers and they can come up to the poster and label.  If you aren't comfortable with them leaving their seats, you could always label/model.

As this is happening, the other students are recording it down on their paper.  It really helps if they use a different color on the second day because when I collect these papers, I can see what they accomplished on their own (Monday) versus share out day (Tuesday).

Students are encouraged to label as much as they can, with everything from parts of speech to spelling patterns.  

You can grab these HERE.

This is KEY application of mini-lessons and prior learning!

Depending on the length of the sentence, this takes anywhere from 20-25 minutes.  They LOVE to share out.  In all the years I've done this, this has always been the most exciting day with language wall.

And while I do not force students to share, I will gently encourage them to find one thing to share.  They really do love that they're empowered with this and will almost always want to jump in and participate.

I like using the resources from HERE.

As they're sharing, I'm keeping track but they always, forever, and 100% of the time find things NOT on this answer key.

When we are all done, I add up their total.  This year in hybrid, they've set up a friendly competition where Group A tries to beat Group B and vice versa.

It's healthy competition that keeps them on their toes and the pendulum swings each week.

This is also a great time to incorporate word parts.  If they notice any, label it and post the card.  We love having a word wall right under our language wall, exactly for this purpose.  The word parts are HERE.


We do not do language wall on this day because I only see one cohort.


On this day, we focus on revising and imitating the sentence.

Revising, to us, means to make the sentence stronger.  We had adjectives, extend prepositional phrases, and play around with punctuation, all without changing the meaning of the sentence.

We also imitate something about the author's craft and this is where I tie in our writing mini-lessons.  If we've recently covered dialogue tags and our mentor sentence has one, I might have students write their own sentence with one.  I always look at the mentor sentence and decide what I want my students to apply and practice.  It can be a sentence with a dependent clause or a sentence with commas in a series or so much more!

Students record on their worksheets and then volunteers share out.

If a sentence blows us away, that student gets to write it on a sticky index card and put it up on the board.  It's an exciting honor!

This takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes.


We take the assessment that comes with the resource OR I'll have them complete an exit ticket.  99% of the time, we do the assessment that is in the resource.

I collect their quiz and their mentor sentence worksheet and grade both.  The quiz is graded for accuracy and the worksheet is graded for effort.

I have found that, in fourth grade, having this available to them during the quiz, is a huge asset.  Also, it encourages them throughout the week to stay on top of their labels, as the large sentence on the board is covered during the quiz.

Typically, the quiz takes about 15 minutes.

Once everyone has completed their quiz, we do a rock-paper-scissors tournament (no contact!) for anyone who might want to take the mentor sentence poster home.  This is VERY EXCITING and I'm always shocked how many kids are desperate to take it home.

I think that is testament to the fact that they feel immense ownership with it!

I hope this helps; I will forever stand on a mountain top and shout the praises of language wall.  It moves our students in reading, writing, language, confidence, listening, speaking, and so much more!


  1. Hello!! I am 100% virtual this year - I am IN LOVE with mentor sentences and want to start incorporating but how do I have them label online (google classroom document)

  2. Nevermind! I see that the resources are digital! Thank YOU!