“Word walls” are helping San Quentin residents English, history and math.
The Peer Literacy Mentor Program (PLMP) is viewed as both an educational tool and and an art form. Word walls are a way to make a classroom more friendly and inviting.
The San Quentin word walls are all similar: small pieces of paper or cards have a word written on the front and a definition on the back, and those papers are then posted on a wall. The end result is a wall covered with words.
Word walls “provide a place to post high frequency words that have already been taught,” said Samantha Cleaver in a June 2018 article on the WeAreTeachers website. “Students can use the words as a reference during reading and writing, making them more independent while teaching them how to use a reference tool.”
Word walls are utilized in various areas of the C1 classroom, located in the rear of the Education Building.
“This is my way of giving back. It allows me to work one on one with students seeking various education goals,” said C. Carter.
Supervisor A. Sufi introduced various training methods, with an emphasis on the value of visual aids when teaching people different concepts and lessons.
H-Unit PLMP trainees developed the first word wall in C1. Their wall was the inspiration for building additional word walls.
The Branches of Government build members had this to say:
“Working with these guys was really refreshing because it was such a natural process. Everyone brought their own strengths and weaknesses,” said Aron Kumar Roy.
“It was a new challenge that I had never done before. At the end of the day we actually learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it,” Tay Reed said.
“The challenge is to cover classroom walls with something engaging and educational for students,” said Steven Joyner.
Additionally, other PLMP mentors have created word walls to aid in classroom learning.
One of these additions is called a Cylindrical Mercator Projection.
“Learning modalities plays a key role in the teaching of geography,” said Mark Jarosik. “The Mercator Projection mobile questions allow students to explore our dynamic world.”
D. Mora’s addition to the word wall stated, “The map is cylindrical, including cards containing slide out tabs with questions written outside and answers found inside.”
There are many things in our world that art can express.
“Exploring a world map connects the student to the amazing world around us,” said M. Moore.
The word walls are seen as works of art. People say they can see a picture and the picture will say a thousand words.
The Math Formulas word wall team members had these statements:
“I thought it was appropriate for the creation of a math word wall,” said Harry C. Goodall Jr. “There are so many aspects of math that we don’t feel apply to everyday life, that do.”
Word walls have created movements in many school systems.
“The intention of the math wall is to engage their curiosity. So when they’re interacting with the wall, hopefully it will inspire them to ask questions. They can go to it and gain a visual perspective on math,” said Don Evans.
The ‘Parts of Speech’ wall creators said:
“I thought it was important to see the parts of speech. This would help students become better writers,” said John Czub.
The Parts of Speech wall has phrases to aid developing writing skills.
“My inspiration for the word wall is simple — the more resources we can provide for our students, the better change we provide towards lasting change,” said M. Shukry.
The Peer Literacy Mentor Program program was created by Gov. Gavin Newsom. It operates within state prisons as an aid to people seeking higher education..
PLMP mentoring operates Monday–Friday from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Interested persons can schedule in-building mentoring.