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.