Bump It Up Walls are certainly popular in classrooms right now – and for good reason. They are effective! But if you’ve never used one before, you may be wondering how to set up a bump it up wall in your classroom so that you and your students can get the most out of it.
Why use a bump it up wall? They give your students a clear roadmap to success! Bump it up walls help learners know how to improve, or ‘bump up’ to the next level of achievement. Students no longer have to guess what you are looking for – they have clear examples and explicit instructions right in front of them!
How to set up a Bump It Up Wall
- Print your writing exemplars
- Display them in ascending order (eg D to A) from left to right, on your wall. Ensure they are at student height for easy reference. You can display them diagonally moving up the wall across your wall, or if you are short on space, display them vertically from bottom to top – again making sure all learners in your classroom can read all exemplars.
- Print all annotations (success criteria) and display them beneath or beside the corresponding exemplars (eg A annotations underneath the A writing exemplar).
- Add a heading if you wish.
Each set of annotations (success criteria) detail to students HOW they can move from one level to the next, for example by achieving a certain success criteria. In the early years, you may use icons for the annotations, such as a finger image to show that finger spaces are a success criteria.
How to use a Bump It Up Wall
These instructions sit within an assessment cycle that includes formative assessment and self/peer/teacher feedback. Students should know where they sit on the wall, have a learning goal, and know how they can improve. The display is an interactive display – teach each element explicitly and model how to use the wall.
Now you know how to set up a bump it up wall, it’s time to use one! They should not just be static displays that aren’t referred back to – they should be used every time you are teaching.
- Introduce the topic you will be teaching (eg procedural texts) and immerse students in some examples of texts appropriate for their level.
- Pre-test your students. Find out what they already know. Give students a prompt to write their own text – this will become a fantastic tool for students in the beginning of the assessment cycle.
- Give students feedback based on their pre-test – help them set a learning goal. Keep these safely filed away – students can access them during writing time. Each student sample collected adds to a portfolio of student progression.
- Introduce the Bump It Up Wall. Explain that there are samples for each achievement level.
- Students should self evaluate their sample against the wall and find out where they ‘sit’. You can conference with your students and make note of where they sit, or provide each student with a small label to place them selves on the wall. These can be anonymous. I like to use post-it notes. Students can draw a picture on their post it, and write their name on the back (sticky side). They then stick the post-it note on the sample they think is closest to their own. You can take a photo of the wall for future reference and remove the post-its, or leave as it.
- Teach to the ‘A’. The top sample is the aspirational sample. Your students may not get all elements right, but some will certainly achieve more than they expect. Aim high!
- Introduce the ‘A’ sample as an example of ‘what a good one looks like’.
- As a class, read the matching annotations and locate examples within the text. You can do this by displaying the sample on the whiteboard or by printing samples for students to annotate individually or in groups.
- Throughout the teaching and learning cycle, teach each success criteria (eg transition words). You may need to do this a few times. Ensure that your teaching is focused on achieving success criteria. If you need to add a success criteria to align with your assessment (eg and oral retell of the written piece), add them!
- Provide students with a printed checklist of success criteria.
- Teach your unit of work, completing check-in formative assessments – you could also students to write a complete text or just one component (eg orientation).
- Encourage students to refer to the Bump It Up Wall or checklist to see how they can improve.
- Provide feedback and teach students how to self-assess against the Bump It Up Wall. They can do this by using a highlighter to highlight each success criteria within their own work. What are they missing and what do they need to do next time? That become a learning goal.
- Co-create your own writing sample with your class
- Leave your Bump It Up Wall up during the final assessment.
Throughout an assessment cycle, students may sit at different levels on the BIUW, and through class discussions and feedback with their teacher may progress to higher levels.
Feedback is a very important, unseen element of the Bump It Up Wall. Each iteration of student work, evaluated with feedback and the use of the BIUW, will help students to ‘bump up’ their learning.
Now you know how to set up a bump it up wall, and how to implement it in your classroom, it’s time to have a go!