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 Bump It Up Walls in Mathematics

Bump It Up Walls in Mathematics

I am frequently asked how to create a Bump It Up Walls in Mathematics. 

Although maths walls may appear to be trickier, the premise is the same. The awesome thing is that the benefits to your students will also be the same! Visible learning and teaching really matters and has a huge impact on student learning.

Let’s get into the steps we need to take to get started with Bump It Up Walls in maths!

A worked example of an ‘A’.

How to create a Bump It Up Wall for Mathematics

A mathematics BIUW needs a Learning Intention and leveled samples (worked examples). As with any Bump It Up Wall, you should be guided by your marking rubric. This will tell you how many levels you will need on your wall (generally A, B, C, and sometimes D standard).

  • Create your A using the marking rubric. Your ‘A’ sample should be 100% correct, align with the A on your marking guide (not working beyond), and demonstrate the most efficient/preferred method.
  • List the Success Criteria (‘I can’ statements) needed to achieve the A. and display below the sample.
  • Once your ‘A’ is created, create your B and C levels, etc.

Again, be guided by your marking rubric. Some differentiating factors in mathematics can include accuracy of calculations, application of an effective strategy, and inclusion of all elements/steps.

  • Look at the verbs in your marking guide to include skills within your success criteria. For example, ‘I can decode the question’; ‘I can decide on a strategy’; ‘I can defend my strategy/answer.’ 
  • Once you have your samples and success criteria for each sample, you are ready to display your wall. In the early days of your unit, your student can perform a pre-test and then identify where they currently sit on the Bump It Up Wall. They will then see how they can boost their own achievement by referring to the wall.

To turn your Mathematics Bump It Up Wall into a learning wall:

  • Add your marking rubric
  • Add vocabulary and definitions (re-written in student language)
  • A list of skills we already know that can help us
  • Can I complete this using a mental method? Can I use a mental method plus some notes? Do I need to use a written method? Do I need a calculator?
  • Can I explain this method to someone else?
  • Include easy access to manipulatives and learning wall ‘take-aways’ such as number lines, hundred squares,  MAB blocks, and protractors – whatever your students may need.
  • Ensure displays are large enough to see from a few meters away and that they are at the students’ level. 
  • Use abstract and real-life examples to demonstrate their concept.

Tip: Integrate STAR strategy for word problems and problem-solving:

Want to connect with other teachers and use Bump It Up Walls effectively? Join our Facebook Group!

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Creating well-rounded narrative writers

creating well-rounded narrative writers

Many students agonise over creative writing and believe they aren’t good writers. Some believe, for example, that they can’t have good ideas. Some students believe that they can’t be good writers because they get low scores in spelling, and some students have been crushed when their entertaining story has achieved a C-grade. How do we help students overcome these doubts, creating well-rounded narrative writers?

How can we create well-rounded narrative writers?

There are some key teaching and learning strategies that need to take place for students to write successful narratives (or complete any assessment really!), and they aren’t always obvious when we have a unit of work in front of us.

1. Explicit teaching of each component.

Each component of the task needs to be explicitly taught.

For example, students do not know how to brainstorm or generate ideas. 

Professional writers don’t just have great ideas. They seek inspiration, they storyboard, they build characters slowly using words and images – there is an entire process that helps set writers up for success. Sometimes it takes writers weeks to come up with ideas.

Students are no different. We need to explicitly teach this process, model it for them, and allow them to practise it. Repeatedly.

2. Students need to be assessment-literate. 

They need to understand the learning intention of the assessment, and they also need to know the success criteria they need to demonstrate to be successful. Just knowing the success criteria can help students to identify their strong and weak points, and what they need to work on. This awareness alone, can improve student success.

Understanding success criteria (and unpacking them within the assessment rubric) helps students to understand that while they may not be the best speller in the world, they can be successful in other success criteria. Good writers aren’t always good at everything!

Being assessment-literate also helps students to understand that they can’t just write a great story – they need to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation as well.

How can we ensure that we are doing these two things to create well-rounded narrative writers?

  1. Backwards mapping assessment.

By starting with the assessment piece, identifying every piece of success criteria, and building that into our planning, we can make sure that we teach everything the students need to know.

We do students a disservice when assessment doesn’t match what students have been taught.

  1. Using learning walls – also known as working walls.

Implementing a learning wall means displaying the task sheet, the assessment rubric, clearly identifying success criteria, providing good examples of text types, and modelling how to achieve each success criteria.

Using a learning wall helps students to see each component of the task, and gives them clarity on the learning task.

It also helps us as teachers to see what has been taught, and what we may need to teach and reteach.

Well-rounded writers are assessment-literate writers, understanding what success looks like. As teachers it’s up to us to ensure that our students have the skills and knowledge to meet the demands of the assessment, and we meet our gaol of creating well-rounded narrative writers.

More teacher tools for narrative writing can be found here

More teacher tools for learning walls can be found here

You can also find our narrative tools on Teachers PayTeachers here

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Co-constructing Texts with your Students

co-constructing texts with your students

Do you ever attempt the assessment pieces that your students need to complete?  It can be a really hard thing to do! This is why co-constructing texts with your class is an important learning step.

It’s also very powerful. Co-constructing the assessment to an ‘A’ level (or even from a C to a B) can help students to understand all of the elements that your students will need to succeed – maybe they are going to need specific vocabulary on their Learning Wall, or maybe they are going to need to improve their adverbial phrases.

Co-constructing helps you to understand what your students need to know, and safely allows them to identify what they need to learn.

It can give you clarity on what really needs to be taught (and re-taught), and help your students to understand the task more clearly.

Co-constructing texts with your students

Co-constructing texts with your students is a very important part of using Bump It Up Walls and Learning Walls. We talk a lot about co-constructed success criteria, but co-constructing texts is hugely important for your classroom. Worked examples (like the examples – co-constructed or not – on our Bump It Up Walls) are one way that students create schemas and reduce the cognitive load of assessment tasks.

How do I co-construct texts in my classroom?

Before writing, students need to be exposed to multiple examples, know WAGOLL (what a good one looks like), and have clear, identified success criteria to refer back to while co-constructing.

1. Immerse in the genre over a week or two

I like to start by engaging my class with a range of different examples of the text genre. For example, if we are writing procedural texts, we look at a range including recipes, how-to manuals, YouTube videos, directions, etc.

I have a range for explicit teaching and modeling, a range for our classroom bookshelf, and copies to display on our Learning Wall.

I also like to take poster-size photocopies of texts so we can annotate them and add them to our wall.

2. Modelled reading/annotating/notetaking

Deconstruct, compare, and annotate different examples. Model thinking aloud as you read the texts to your class “Here’s the title”, “Oh, here they have used sequencing words”, making note of the elements you notice in the text.

Choose structural features to highlight. You can also highlight language features (eg command verbs) and write a list of these, color-coding them as you go (eg green for verbs).

3. Brainstorm – what does a good one look like?

As a class, we brainstorm elements that make a good text example. Display a text, or provide students with a copy of a text – what do we notice?

A-ha! We have some success criteria! How can we organize these?  Check them against your marking guide. Add them to your Learning Wall.

4. Co-constructing: Use Success Criteria to model how to co-construct an ‘A’ sample

When writing, make sure the learning intention and success criteria are clearly displayed. Be clear about the topic (this should not be your assessment topic).

 I like to co-construct texts on my laptop, and on the projector so that students can view the text as we write and I can make changes as we go. Some teachers like to do this with butcher paper and colored markers. You can even do it on your whiteboard with a dry-erase pen, and take a photo on your phone to project later.

Encourage students to make suggestions, debate on changes, and have input into the text. Make improvements, edit, and refer to the success criteria to ensure the text is meeting the success criteria for an ‘A’.

Remember, the intention is to teach students where to focus their attention when writing their text.

Clearly cover text structure, language features, grammar, and punctuation – whatever your marking guide is assessing. If spelling isn’t being assessed, don’t make it a big focus of your modeling.

Learn through doing

Both you and your students learn through this process.

Being a ‘learner’ you identify where students need skills and knowledge and where you may need to reteach or teach differently. You also understand what students need to do and how much effort is going to be required of them.

Your students learn through watching you ‘do’. Listening to your thought processes, watching you interact with the learning wall/bump it up wall, cross-checking, and making mistakes.

Co-constructing texts is a teaching and learning activity that can have a huge impact in your classroom – I encourage you to give it a go!

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Should student goals be on display?

There are whispers that some educational bodies are discouraging the displaying individual student goals in the classroom, as part of a broader push for student data privacy.

Our own philosophies may play a part in how we feel about this, but the reality is that there are ethical and legal reasons why displaying student goals in your classroom may not be acceptable going forward.

What does this mean for you in the classroom? 

Keep student goals out of plain sight

Firstly, ensure that student learning goals are not in plain sight. This means a rejig of traditional student goal mats if you are using them. You can do this by adding a flap that can cover the goals, while keeping them in close proximity to the learner.

You could also keep goals and goal mats:

  • in a portfolio folder accessed by you and the learner
  • in a student’s personal learning device or in their diary
student goal mat
‘Flipping frogs’ goal mat provides privacy to students.


Anonymity is key

Secondly, de-identify any student work on display in your classroom, and ensure your Learning Walls and Bump It Up Walls are anonymous. This doesn’t stop the comparison game – hopefully you are having constructive conversations about student work, identifying what students have done well, and how they can improve or ‘bump up’.

You could also:

  • Include a space, such as a blank square in the top corner,  on student work for them to draw an identifying picture or icon
  • Assign students an identifying number at the beginning of the year that they write on their work instead of their name.
  • Ensure that student work samples used as practise feedback/editing are de-identified

Over many years we have all argued that students know each other’s abilities – they just know.  However, today more than ever, teachers have a responsibility to protect student privacy, from those not involved in their learning, including their peers.

So how do we celebrate learning goals when they are achieved?

We can still celebrate student goals through goal achievement, either as individuals or as a class.

Students can still have their success recognised, even in front of the class. I like to give small vouchers for my prize box or extra computer time when students achieve one of their learning goals.

I also love showing my students my de-identified mark book that shows how they have grown as a class across the term or semester – I use my trusty orange and green colours to show this and it is always so amazing to see how the class has achieved success criteria AND their reaction to seeing my mark book.

Protecting your students, protecting yourself

We know that displaying student marks for everyone to see is the wrong thing to do, but increasingly school districts are seeing increased ethical and legal issues when student data of any kind, including learning goals, are displayed publicly. 

From student confidence in the classroom, to gossipy parents, there are a range of dangers inherent in displaying this information for schools and us as teachers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or even your personal experience with student privacy in your classroom, and let me know – how are you displaying your student learning goals? 

My freebie, Student Goals Venn Diagram, comes with a box for students to draw an identifying picture, instead of writing their name.