A Simple Guide to Introducing a Bump It Up Wall to Students.

Introduce a bump it up wall

A bump it up wall is a visual tool used to encourage students to take their learning to the next level. Introducing a bump it up wall as a teaching and learning tool is important because they are not widely used. Students in your class may need a lesson on what they are, and how to use them.

Here’s how to introduce a bump it up wall to your students:

  1. Explain the concept: Explain what a bump it up wall is and why it’s important for student learning. Emphasize that the goal is to help students move from basic understanding to a deeper level of understanding.
  2. Show an example: Show the students an example of a bump it up wall. Explain the different levels of understanding represented by each tier of the wall.
  3. Explain the process: Explain how the bump it up wall works. Students will start at the bottom level and work their way up the wall as they demonstrate deeper understanding. You can choose for moving up to be a public or private process – for example, you may like students to write their name on a tag and move it up, or draw their own picture to remain anonymous. Alternatively, students can track their own progress in a goal book.
  4. Provide opportunities to move up: Encourage students to ask questions and seek opportunities to demonstrate their understanding. Offer additional resources or activities to help students move up the wall. You could include self and peer-assessment checklists, annotating and editing of samples, and formative assessment opportunities.
  5. Celebrate progress: Celebrate students’ progress and recognition their hard work and determination to reach the top of the bump it up wall. I have celebrated by organising ‘meetings with the Principal’, celebratory learning walks, ‘publishing’ finished work in a class magazine, or Friday afternoon games.

By introducing the bump it up wall, you are giving students a clear path to success and the motivation to continue learning and growing.

bump it up wall
Bump It Up Wall using Teachie Tings Clipart

Need help implementing Bump It Up Walls in your classroom?

How to Set Up a Bump It up Wall

Have you been asked to set up a bump it up wall in your classroom? Are you pulling your hair out wondering how to do it? Bump It Up Walls are certainly popular in classrooms right now – and for good reason. They are effective!

However, 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!

Use a prominent place in your classroom to display your wall. You should be able to access it easily for group teaching (in front of a floor space) and it should be at a level that is easily accessed by your students – make sure all students can closely read all samples).

How to set up a Bump It Up Wall

  1. Print your writing exemplars. These are levelled examples of ‘what a good one looks like’. For example, if the assessment is writing a Year 3 persuasive letter, then you would display what that poersuasive letter looks like at a A-D level (depending on the ability levels of your students.

Need some levelled exemplars for your bump it up wall? We’ve got a huge range in our subscription!

2. Display your exemplars 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.

3. Print all annotations (success criteria) and display them beneath or beside the corresponding exemplars (eg A-level annotations underneath the A writing exemplar).

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.

4. Add a heading if you wish.

how to use bump it up wall image
Horizontal display (left to right). You can colour-code the annotations, highlighting examples within the texts.
how to set up a bump it up wall
Teachie Tings has a range of visual displays you can use to engage learners.

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.)

Initial Phase

  1. Commence by introducing the topic, such as procedural texts, immersing students in suitable examples.
  2. Pre-test your students: Gauge their existing knowledge by assigning a prompt for them to create a text. This serves as a valuable tool at the beginning of the assessment cycle.
  3. Provide feedback: Based on the pre-test, assist students in setting a learning goal. Then, safely file these away for student access during writing time, creating a portfolio of progression.
  4. Introduce the Bump It Up Wall: Clarify that it contains samples for each achievement level.
  5. Self-evaluation: Instruct students to assess their samples against the wall, determining where they ‘sit.’ You can use labels or anonymous post-it notes for this purpose.

Teaching and Learning Cycle

  1. Teach to the ‘A’: Aim high with the top sample as the aspirational benchmark. Although students may not get everything right, some will surpass their expectations.
  2. Explore the ‘A’ sample: Treat it as an exemplar of ‘what a good one looks like.’ Read annotations together, locating examples within the text.
  3. Success criteria teaching: Throughout the learning cycle, teach each success criterion, focusing on achieving them. Adapt as needed to align with your assessment requirements.
  4. Provide a printed checklist: Furnish students with a tangible checklist of success criteria.
  5. Teach your unit of work: Conduct check-in formative assessments, either for a complete text or specific components.
  6. Encourage reference to the Bump It Up Wall: During teaching, students should check how they can improve based on the wall or checklist.

Final Assessment and Continuous Improvement

  1. Offer feedback and self-assessment: Teach students to self-assess against the Bump It Up Wall. Use a highlighter to identify missing criteria, turning it into a learning goal.
  2. Co-create a writing sample: Collaborate with your class to create a writing sample that aligns with the learning goals.
  3. Maintain the Bump It Up Wall during the final assessment: Keep it visible, allowing students to refer to it as they finalize their work.
  4. Throughout the assessment cycle, students may occupy different levels on the BIUW. Class discussions and feedback sessions with the teacher facilitate progression to higher levels.
  5. Feedback remains a crucial, albeit unseen, element of the Bump It Up Wall. Every iteration of student work, evaluated with feedback and the BIUW, contributes to their continuous improvement, helping them ‘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!

We have a huge range of visual writing rubrics (writing samples/exemplars) and bump it up wall displays in our subscription! Find out more here.

Interactive Learning Walls

make you learning walls interactive

Do you know how to make your learning walls interactive, so that all students can access them easily?

This is an important question to ask yourself when planning for the learning that is going to take place. Will your students come up to the wall and then mentally take information back to their desk? Are all of your students capable of doing this? Are you capable of doing this?

Memory is a really tricky tool to rely on and doesn’t support your learners at all – especially those who have trouble processing information before it is used. Instead, could you provide ‘take-aways’ in the form of vocabulary cards or checklists? Or another tool?

These are important questions to ask, as it’s one thing to display the information, but if it’s not truly accessible to all of your learners, then your learning wall won’t be used to its full potential.

You wouldn’t teach a normal writing lesson without differentiating for students that have additional needs – for example, providing printed copies of your PowerPoint, or digital text, so it’s important to think this way for your Learning Wall.

First steps? Well, interactive elements are my go-to! Not only are they an easy way to differentiate, but they add an element of fun and can turn a flat, boring wall into a vibrant learning centre.

How can you make your learning wall interactive? Some of my favourite ideas include:

  • Printed copies of information on the wall that students can take back to their desks: text examples, checklists, how-tos, diagrams, mini-anchor charts. You can print these much smaller so they are mini-versions
  • Pockets that hold information, such as question stems, vocabulary, sentence structure
  • Hooks to hold rings of common words, sight words, adjectives, superlatives
  • Hooks to hold copies of books on rings
  • Post-it notes readily available to pose questions or add examples
  • Highlighters to highlight important information
  • Clipboards to lean on at the wall
  • Puppets/story rocks for story retells
  • Interactive flaps on wall, displaying sequential information, or with questions on top and answers underneath
  • QR codes to digital resources
  • Using student drawings as examples
  • Finally, we talk about levels of ability – think about literal levels. Make sure your shortest learner can read all of the information on your wall – if they can’t reach it, it’s not interactive.

If you can imagine it, you can add it to your wall. I think the most important thing to remember is that not all of your students are going to access your wall at the same level, and interactive elements can support those learners and bring your wall to life.

How to Co-Construct Success Criteria

how to co-construct success criteria

One of the common challenges teachers have when using bump-it-up walls and learning walls is knowing how to co-construct success criteria.

I used to write the success criteria for my walls prior to introducing a new assessment piece. This worked well until during one particular lesson when it became evident that my students were demonstrating skills that should have been on my learning wall, but weren’t because I hadn’t even thought of them!

Why is it Important to Co-construct Success Criteria?

Student achievement is fast-tracked when they have clarity about a learning task, they understand what is required and how to do it. Co-constructing success criteria helps your students to understand everything you require, and also gives you an opportunity to explain success criteria and deconstruct for understanding.

Sometimes students can look at a marking rubric as though it means nothing to them – they are unable to articulate exactly what they are meant to do. As teachers, we’ve explained the task, but not made sure students have understood the elements required.

Beyond understanding, there is also the opportunity for students to demonstrate prior knowledge and mastery.

I realized that because I had given students no input into the creation of the success criteria, I hadn’t given them an opportunity to truly demonstrate their abilities.

I had never given students input because I had never seen co-construction of success criteria modeled by another teacher, and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to lead my students to the success criteria I wanted them to find (another mistake). I really needed to have more faith in my students and in myself.

I knew that I had to bite the bullet and co-construct the success criteria – not only giving my students ownership of the learning process but also ensuring that I wasn’t limiting my students.

To simplify the process, I chose to co-construct all of the success criteria in one lesson, because we were already a few weeks into our unit.

At first, I was a bit worried about how this lesson would work, but it was a fantastic foundation for my students, and still, I use the same process now. I hope that you will find the following sequence useful!

How to Co-construct Success Criteria (Text-type example)

You will need:

  • A written Learning Intention – this may be taken directly from the marking guide/rubric and/or re-written in child-friendly language). For example, “We are learning to retell a fairy tale from a different perspective”. Your students may not know what ‘perspective’ means – this will need to be deconstructed.
  • A-level sample (previous student work/teacher written or sourced) Pre-qualify the sample to make sure it includes elements required.
  • Cards to write and display success criteria statements on
  • Learning/Working Wall with marking guide/rubric

Co-constructing Success Criteria Teaching Sequence

  1. Spend a few lessons immersing students in examples of the text type.
  2. Brainstorm as a whole class, What makes a good narrative*?  Write down as many success criteria as possible.
  3. Provide students with an A-level narrative sample – one copy each.  This could be from a past student or an example you have written or sourced yourself.
  4. Ask students, What makes THIS a good narrative? Students should read through, individually or in groups, highlighting the different elements that make it a good narrative. They can write notes and use highlighters/colour coding. 
  5. After reading, analyzing and taking notes, students use their notes to write ‘I Can’ success criteria statements on cards.
  6. As a whole class, read through each I Can statement and ‘think aloud’ with your students. Refin statements collaboratively.
  7. Carefully select the most precise I Can statements.
  8. If your marking guide is organised into headings such as Language features, Structure, Punctuation etc, organise students’ brainstormed ideas into these headings. Use colour-coding if you are going to continue to use it throughout the unit.
  9. Ask students if they think there is any success criteria missing.
  10. If students have missed any success criteria, teacher should ask leading questions.
  11. Is there any success criteria they don’t understand? How can we re-write so that everyone understands what it means?
  12. Organise the selected I Can success criteria statements on Learning Wall. Organise under headings and colour-code. Use string or ribbon to connect success criteria statements to marking guide and to examples on the Learning Wall.

You could also do this for just one element (introduction, climax) noting all Success criteria used; or you could introduce one at a time (e.g during a lesson on capital letters for proper nouns).

Knowing how to co-construct success criteria collaboratively, and using the process as a teaching and learning opportunity in your classroom, is one of the most effective ways to increase student and teacher clarity about learning expectations. Once created, students can refer back to the success criteria repeatedly during the unit of work and during the assessment, massively increasing their ability to achieve each criterion.

how to co-construct success criteria
Sorting student success criteria into useful categories.

What if I don’t Have Time to Co-construct Success Criteria?

Writing success criteria (and finding the classroom time to co-construct) is a serious time issue for teachers.

Here are some tips for when you don’t have time:

  • Find quality writing samples that have already been annotated with leveled success criteria.
  • Ensure success criteria are clearly linked to learning experiences .
  • Ensure each each success criteria is explicitly taught and referred back to during teaching.
  • Create a success criteria student checklist for them to refer back to regularly
  • Use success criteria in conjunction with bump it up walls and learning walls.

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