89. If students become dependent on wall charts for everyday work, how does this affect standardized testing when the wall charts have to be covered or removed, i.e., their crutch is gone?

Well, I do not call any visual materials that facilitate learning a crutch!!!! Indeed, if visual materials were not so effective as they are for teaching, then we would not have billboards all over our towns and cities!!!! Billboards are extremely clever ways to TEACH us what business wants us to do!!! AND, WE LEARN FROM THESE BILLBOARDS, and the learning lasts a long time, even AFTER the billboard is removed!!!!

No, there is NO "crutch" when we learn from visually posted information, such as wall charts. NOW, remember I said that billboards use very clever ways to TEACH us what business wants us to learn. Thus, a wall chart that just lists words in alphabetical order, or lists words in a totally random or disorganized fashion, that type of visually posted information is NOT going to be very effective in TEACHING students what we want them to learn. Thus, to be EFFECTIVE TEACHING and LEARNING TOOLS, wall charts have to list words organized in the most effective way possible.

THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to organize words in wall charts is by MEANING categories. Thus, when a student needs to know how to write or spell a word, that information is readily available if the student knows the category to which the word belongs. If the student needs to spell "onion," for example, and if the words in the wall chart are organized into meaning categories, one of the categories being "vegetables," or "edible roots," or "strong-smelling foods," then finding the word is very easy.

To find the word "onion" in a dictionary a student needs to know many, many other things:

  1. the organization of the letters in the Roman alphabet we use to write English;
  2. the organization of the letters in a word –first letter, then second letter, then third letter, each letter in the sequence in alphabetical order;
  3. the totally arbitrary spelling system of English which dictates that "onion" begins with "o", although "unsuitable" which begins with the SAME SOUND, must be found under "u."

Please, keep in mind that EVERY TIME A STUDENT WRITES INCORRECTLY A WORD, that incorrectly written word constitutes a practice opportunity that reinforces the incorrect spelling. Thus, the incorrect spelling, practiced again and again, becomes a "habit," and the student NEVER learns to write or spell correctly! Thus, BEFORE the student practices writing incorrectly spelled words, it is more effective --to promote correct writing and spelling-- to provide for the student a very fast, very practical, very easy to use means to find the word s(he) needs to write and WRITE THE WORD CORRECTLY!!!!! Wall charts organized by meaning categories are very effective means to provide fast, easy, accessible information to CORRECTLY spell words!!!!!

A second VERY EFFECTIVE WAY to organize words in a wall chart is to organize words by spelling patterns. For example, Word Families based on "phonograms" help students see spelling patterns AND sound patterns. For instance, lists of words that have the phonogram "-at" as in "cat, hat, sat, mat, pat, rat, spat," etc., etc., are very helpful to identify the spelling pattern and SOUND pattern of words. Non-English and limited-English proficient students and ALL English-ONLY students find these Word Families very helpful. There are many "Word Families" in the English language and knowing word families is very helpful in READING and WRITING.

ALL students need to be able to identify spelling patterns that have multiple SOUND patterns. For example, "then," and "thin" begin with the same two letters, but the sound of those two letters is different in each of the words. Teachers, consequently, must have words organized by the SOUND patterns of letters and groups of letters that have two or more sounds or sound patterns associated with them. To place the word "sugar," for example, under "s" as in "Sue," in a wall chart organized exclusively by alphabetical order is THE BEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO CONFUSE STUDENTS. Thus, "bee" and "see" and "meet" and "sleep," need to be in a different chart than "pea" and "sea" and "bead" and "meat" and "read." The letter combinations –ee- and –ea- may sound the same in many words, but not in ALL words, and most English-ONLY students and just about ALL non- or limited-English proficiency students need help remembering what sound is associated with which letter combinations.

Another way to organize words in a way that effectively contributes to learning is to list Greek- and/or Latin-derived ENGLISH words next to their Spanish cognates. This is particularly helpful for (1) Spanish-English bilingual students and (2) Spanish-speaking non- or limited-English speakers. IT IS ALSO HELPFUL FOR ALL STUDENTS as they see words twice, almost. Thus, for example, it is very easy to learn the following English word if the teacher lists Spanish "odioso" next to its English cognate "odious."

Another way to organize words in a way that effectively contributes to learning is to list all derived and compound words next to the root word. For example, from the root word EARTH, how many derived and compound words do you know? Listing all those words together in a chart greatly increases the students’ awareness of affixes –prefixes and suffixes. And since in English the use of prefixes and suffixes with root words is totally arbitrary, the result of very ancient and traditional patterns of speech, students need to hear and see which words CAN and DO join which prefixes and suffixes BEFORE they use these words correctly.

Now, if the words in wall charts are organized in the ways indicated above, those posted words should be LEARNED very easily, as students SEE and HEAR and READ and WRITE and are just exposed to the effectively organized words time and again. When testing comes, COVER the wall charts, and you WILL NOT be covering any crutches!!!!!


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net