What is the difference between Bump It Up Walls and Learning Walls?

what is the difference between bump it up walls and learning walls?

Bump It Up Walls and Learning Walls are similar, so they are easily confused. Many people ask me, ‘What IS the difference between Learning Walls and Bump It Up Walls?”. I get it – they are very similar!

To start with, both are examples of the Visible Learning approach – a way for teachers to evaluate their own teaching by ‘making student learning visible. They also ensure students are taught what they need to know, given guidance on how to learn it, and that students are taught how to evaluate their own learning.

Each display aims to give teachers and students clarity over learning outcomes, and each display includes aspirational examples and success criteria. That said, they are not the same thing.

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 it 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.

What is a Bump It Up Wall?

A Bump It Up Wall is a visual display, that helps learners know how to improve, or ‘bump up’ to the next level of achievement. Bump It Up Walls can also be known as visual rubrics and are simply that – a visual rubric of achievement that makes outcomes ‘visible’!

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This teacher has created a Bump It Up Wall that displays five levels, with space for students to grow. Each example includes annotations (underneath( that detail why that sample is at that level. Students at the lower examples can look to the upper examples, read the annotations and try to implement some of those criteria into their own work. You can see the display is linear, moving from left-to-right, and is focussed on the production of a work sample.

A Bump It Up Display includes levelled exemplars of work. The levels could be as simple as ‘good, better, best’, or be benchmarked to your assessment /curriculum 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, mathematics, or even how to clean an area of the classroom. They work for students of all levels. In the early years, displays should 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 finger spaces.

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.

Your Bump It Up Wall Should Include:

  • Levelled examples of a completed piece of assessment (eg a procedure). These can be as simple as three levels (eg C-A) or you can include a level for each level of abiliity in your classroom. Lyn Sharrat (Clarity) suggests the latter is best practice – I argue it is not always practical or best use of a teacher’s time.
  • Annotations (success criteria) for each level. These can be co-constructed with your students, but you should know what they will be prior to the commencement of learning – they will come from your marking rubric. In fact everything on your marking rubric should be included on your annotations.
  • A heading

Could include: labels to represent students – these can be anonymous.

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

What is a Learning Wall?

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 students’ knowledge as they work towards their LEARNING INTENTION can be included. You should aim to make your Learning Walls interactive.

The wall is not linear like a BIUW – it grows in any direction, depending on your students’ needs.

what is a learning wall
A Learning Wall has the Learning Intention, Success Criteria, and the assessment rubric as central to its purpose. It is not linear – instead, the wall sprawls from these central ideas and spreads as ideas, examples, student samples and more are added. It becomes a working archive of student learning. Each element within the assessment rubric should be represented on the wall – for example, if student editing is part of the assessment, then effective editing should be explicitly taught and featured on this wall.

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 students’ 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 string 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.

How can Learning Walls and Bump It Up Walls be Used Together?

Bump It Up Walls can be used as stand-alone displays OR incorporated in a learning wall. When included in your learning wall, make clear connections between the annotations of your Bump It Up Wall and the rubric criteria on your marking rubric. You can do this by colour-coding, using string, or some other creative means!

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

To get you started, I have a range of displays and writing exemplars (visual writing rubrics) that will save you a massive amount of time!

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