Success Criteria and Bump It Up Walls are two big buzz words in education right now. Since September, I’ve been using “success criteria” for each of our TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways) Cycles, and I have definitely seen the benefit of this. Students understand this criteria, and they can use this criteria to do better. All students are capable of learning — I really believe this — and in its own way, I almost feel as though the Success Criteria gives the recipe for being successful. Success Criteria is also great for me as a teacher because I can see where the students are still struggling, and I can design my lessons accordingly. We all benefit!
Then there’s the Bump It Up Walls. Up until a week ago, I never had one of these walls. Over the March Break, this changed! I was out for lunch with an amazing new administrator, Dale Hill (@MrDHill), and we started to talk about “bump it up walls.” Dale spent lots of time with his staff explaining these walls, and talking to him, gave me some good ideas. I initially thought that these walls were much like the Performance Walls from last year, and while my students eventually started using these walls, I found that much of the information on them were more for educators than for students. I have limited space in my classroom, and due to some student needs, I try to reduce visual distractions too, so I only wanted to put something up that would be meaningful. Dale helped me realize that these walls really are for the students, and after our lunch that day, I went home and started creating mine. I used work the students already made, I created simple arrows to help explain how students could “bump up their work” from one level to the next, and I went with a minimalist approach, so that the Bump It Up Wall would not become too visually distracting. On the last Friday of March Break, I went into the classroom, and I spent an hour putting up these walls: one for my Grade 1 students and one for my Grade 2 students.
On Monday morning, the students immediately noticed the Bump It Up Walls. They went up to them, they started talking about what was on them, and they asked me a few questions about them. It was then teaching time for me: I took the students over to the walls, and we talked about what was on them. We spoke about what we could do to “bump up our work.” Real student work was included on these walls — just with the names removed — and I wanted the students to realize that it didn’t matter what level they were at, as long as they did their best. Students almost realized this on their own though. When we were looking at the Grade 2 Wall on Letter Writing, one boy in my class realized that his letter was the Level 2 Example, just with his name removed. He told the rest of the class this, and then said, “It’s okay though, Miss Dunsiger. This was when I was just learning how to write a letter. Now I can do better!” And that was exactly the point!
Now that the students had an interest in these Bump It Up Walls, I needed to give them opportunities to use them. Every morning, my students come into the classroom and write on their Palm Treos in response to questions that I put on the SMART Board. These questions are different for Grade 1 students and Grade 2 students, and they almost always relate to a Science or Social Studies topic that we are studying in class. I try to get students thinking deeply about what they’re learning, and I encourage them to use different forms when writing. To help encourage them to use the Bump It Up Walls now too, I put a note at the bottom of the questions that reminded them to use the Success Criteria and Bump It Up Walls too. This is exactly what they did! Students got up off the carpet, they went to look at the walls, and they came back and made changes to their work. They even discussed with the class how they would assess and evaluate their own work, and what they could do to improve. It was awesome!
Then Friday came, and I had two different writing activities for the Grade 1 and Grade 2 students to complete: both of which matched up to the different TLCPs (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways). As the students were writing, I watched a number of them take their work, go over to the Bump It Up Walls, look at the examples, and assess and evaluate their own work. I was so excited that I just had to record some of these student reflections. You can see these video recordings on this glog.
Watching these videos made me very thankful that I listened to Dale and tried something new. What a wonderful surprise! For those of you using Success Criteria and Bump It Up Walls in your classrooms, what are your thoughts on them? How are your students responding to them? I would love to hear your thoughts! I’m very excited that my two great administrators, Ms. Laporte and Mrs. McLaughlin, are going to use time during our next PA Day to discuss Success Criteria and Bump It Up Walls. I can’t wait to figure out where to go next with this!