Posted on

Bump It Up Walls in Your Classroom

Bump it up walls are a fantastic tool to make learning visible in the classroom.

Not only are learning intentions clear, but students can also use the wall as a ‘third teacher’ when you are busy with other students.

What does the research say about Bump It Up Walls?

How to set up a Bump It Up Wall

How do I use Bump It Up Walls in the classroom?

At the beginning of each unit, I find worked examples to use as leveled texts on my Bump It Up Wall display. I may also write them myself if I can’t find good examples or past student work to display. WHile writing them myself is more time consuming, it also gives me a deeper understanding of the task. If you have the time, give it a go. If you don’t have time to write your own samples, download some of ours.

At the beginning of a unit, normally the end of week one, I will collect a student (pre-test) work sample from each of my students. Then I will introduce the bump it up wall, learning intentions, and the work samples. I deconstruct each work sample as a whole class, and we also deconstruct, annotate and analyze lots of different examples to identify success criteria and WAGOLL (What a good one looks like).

In week two, I mark and return each student’s pre-test sample, along with some feedback. Normally feedback is verbal and I will help them to write one thing that they can improve on a post-it note. They can refer back to it late or add it to our Learning Wall. Then I ask students to determine where they currently sit on the bump it up wall (which worked example best represents their current ability?). They can label themselves using tags I have created with their names on, or anonymously with a picture they have drawn (and their name on the back for my reference).

Throughout the learning cycle, I reference the board and encourage students to see how they can improve their writing. The language we use remains the same, students know where they need to go and HOW to get there – it’s powerful stuff! We also co-construct success criteria and example texts together. Once success criteria are decided on and added to our wall,  they become the foundation of our student checklist – a more robust means of giving students feedback. You can read more about that process here.

I often leave the entire wall up during assessments (negotiate this with your team), allowing students to reference the wall if need be. 

Personally, I’ve also found that it keeps my teaching on track. I conduct almost weekly check-ins with my students where I collect a work sample (for narratives this may be a weekly story they have written or just one paragraph) and give either written or verbal feedback, with a goal slip that they keep on their desk. Sometimes our weekly goal is a WHOLE CLASS GOAL, such as sentence boundary punctuation, and sometimes it is very individual (e.g. letter reversal).

Bump It Up Walls give me a framework within which to monitor my students’ success (formative assessment) while also receiving feedback on my own teaching. They become the third teacher, allowing students to self-assess and monitor their own learning. Further, they become a visual artifact of learning – students remember what was taught and apply it, rather than viewing meaningless anchor charts on the wall. Bump It up Walls are a huge help for me in my classroom, help my students to know what I expect of them, and give them the tools to get there.


bump it up walls
Co-constructing success critieria
bump it up wall
Bump It Up Wall using Teachie Tings Clipart
Posted on Leave a comment

Aboriginal Astronomy

Explore Aboriginal Astronomy and Dreamtime Stories with the 'Emu in the Sky' For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have looked into the Milky Way and seen the 'Emu in the Sky'. Suitable for grades 2-3 (wristbands p-3), this pack includes: Emu in the Sky Dreamtime Story and Comprehension questions/answer sheet Emu in the Sky Information Text and Comprehension questions/answer sheet 'Emu in the Sky' student wristbands - perfect for celebration and commemoration, such as NAIDOC Week.

Aboriginal Astronomy is fast becoming an area that our students want to know more about. Through Dreamtime stories, Aboriginal science is becoming more mainstream, and it is our job as educators to be able to share this knowledge. 

Scientists believe that Australian Aboriginal people could have been the world’s first astronomers. Aboriginal people created sun dials and calendars that link the movement of the stars to seasons. They also used this knowledge to determine when certain animals are laying eggs or ready to hunt. There is so much to learn about Aboriginal astronomy.

In the Australian Curriculum, an understanding of Aboriginal Astronomy is a suggested teaching elaboration. However,  I found trying to find information on this topic to share with my young students was a challenge. Most information was in news format, and still needed a teacher’s touch to make it digestible for young readers. This is such a shame because the stories are truly fascinating.

The Emu in the Sky is a Dreamtime story that explains how the giant emu shape came to be in the sky. In modern science, the Milky Way is the galaxy that our sun and solar system are a part of. The movement of the Milky Way,  has been watched over thousands of years by Aboriginal people all over Australia. It’s location in the sky is linked to when emus are laying eggs, when they are nesting, and when they are ready to hunt. The emu shape is created by the black clouds (not the bright constellations – as in much of Western science).

I found myself drawn into the Dreamtime story, and every snippet of information I could find – my students found it equally as fascinating. It’s just a shame we are at school during the day and can’t see the emu in the sky during lesson time. 

Next time you are outside at night, see if you can find this magnificent piece of Aboriginal history and astronomy.

Aboriginal Astronomy

Posted on Leave a comment

3 Chocolate-free Easter Activities Your Class Will Love!

Chocolate-free Easter activities – whoa!

No, I’m not trying to be a buzzkill – I’m just a regular teacher dealing with allergies, traffic light food rules and a class of eager seven-year-olds who already have enough energy! While it is tempting to give your class chocolate at Easter time, there is lots of egg-cellent ideas for letting your children be egg-cited (ok, I’ll stop the puns!), make connections with home, and get into the Easter spirit without giving them chocolate eggs or sweets.

My top 3 no-chocolate activities are:

  1. The Easter Basket
    Traditions die hard, and you probably remember making an Easter basket at school. Using a printable template is easy and time-effective, however you may also like to create a design challenge, such as ‘Create an Easter Basket that will hold five eggs’. Students enjoy taking their basket home and using on Easter Sunday – I recall saving mine ALL YEAR when I was at school – so this is always a winner!
  2. A carrot card for the Easter Bunny!
    Carrot cards printed on orange paper look fantastic as a classroom display, and are also something a little different to send home with students before the Easter break. Students can write a short note to the Easter Bunny telling him where to leave some eggs, thanking him for visiting, or wishing him a lovely Easter.
  3. An Easter Bunny paper topper!
    I can hear you say, “A writing task?”, but using the Easter theme to freshen up the genre your students are already working on,  will give your students an extra boost and a piece of writing they can take home with pride. You will also squeeze in an Easter activity while still making progress towards your other teaching goals

What are your favourite no-chocolate Easter activities?

You can find a range of Easter activities, including my top 3, available for purchase in my shop.