One of the most common questions I hear teachers ask is:

“What is the difference between BUMP IT UP WALLS and LEARNING WALLS?”

There is a misconception that they are the same thing. I want to tell you that they are very different teaching and learning tools, and the first step in using them effectively, is to understand exactly what they are:

What are Bump It Up Walls?

bump it up wall

Bump it up walls are a visual display, that help learners know how to improve, or ‘bump up’ to the next level of achievement. The display includes levelled exemplars of work. The levels could be as simple as ‘good, better, best’, or be benchmarked to your assessment criteria, for example ‘C, B, A’ or ‘Sound, High, Very High’. Displays are linear/hierarchical – either moving from left to right, or from bottom to top.

You can have BIUW (Bump It Up Walls) for anything that you want students to improve: narrative writing, handwriting, bookwork, or even how to clean an area of the classroom. They work for students of all levels. In the early years, displays would be more pictorial.

Each levelled exemplar is accompanied by co-constructed success criteria, or annotations that deconstruct the elements that make the exemplar an example of that particular level. It should be clear to the student, 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.

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.

You can find out HOW I use bump it up walls within a feedback cycle HERE

Learning Walls

Learning Walls are also a visual display, however they centre around a LEARNING INTENTION and include elements such as text scaffolds, word walls, and bump it up walls. They are intended to support students on their learning journey, becoming a reference point for them as they work towards knowledge, understanding and application of skills. Anything that builds on your student knowledge as they work towards their LEARNING INTENTION can be included. The wall is not linear like a BIUW – it grows in any direction, depending on your students needs.

Learning Walls are driven by the LEARNING INTENTION of the summative assessment, for example, “To write a persuasive argument to convince an audience”. This is normally displayed in large text across the top of the LEARNING WALL, clear for all learners to see.

The marking guide or rubric sits at the centre of the wall. Elements of the marking guide are deconstructed and co-constructed into SUCCESS CRITERIA statements. Think of these as items on a checklist that students need to check off to be successful in achieving the LEARNING INTENTION. For example the LANGUAGE FEATURES section of the marking guide, will lead to SUCCESS CRITERIA such as “I can use high modality words”.

Next to these SUCCESS CRITERIA you might include examples of these elements, whether it’s an example that you have shown the class, or that a student has demonstrated. You can include posters, post-it notes, or even clear plastic pockets for removable learning resources. You may also include student examples of work annotated to show what they have done well and how they could ‘bump up’, student goal statements, any reference points for students including definitions, punctuation and grammar, diagrams, photos and drawings. 

Anything that builds on your student knowledge as they work towards their LEARNING INTENTION can be included. The wall is not linear like a BIUW – it grows in any direction, depending on your students needs. Each element is added when it is explicitly taught, rather than displayed as a whole at the beginning of a learning unit of work.

Many teachers like to use paper strips or sting to link each element back to the marking guide.

And from there your wall grows, depending on your learners and their collective and individual needs. No two LEARNING WALLS will look the same.


SO what is the difference between a BUMP IT UP WALL and a LEARNING WALL?

A BUMP IT UP WALL shows a linear progression with different exemplars of work. It has a specific purpose. A LEARNING WALL has a broader purpose, with many different elements and is not linear.

You can use both separately,  and you can use a BIUW within a LEARNING WALL. 

However, a BIUW is NOT a learning wall by itself, even if it includes a LEARNING INTENTION AND SUCCESS CRITERIA.


SO there you have it. Used alone or in conjunction with one another, BIUW and LEARNING WALLS are a hugely transformative teaching tools.

I hope that this post has helped clear any confusion between these two, and possibly motivated you to try implementing them in your classroom.

I have a range of Bump It Up Wall and Learning Wall Starter Kits in my SHOP. You can ask me any questions at hello@teachietings.com

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