What A Wonderful Surprise: Bump It Up Wall Success

Success Criteria andย 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 —ย 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!


19 thoughts on “What A Wonderful Surprise: Bump It Up Wall Success

  1. Aviva,

    Thank you so much for this great explanation of Bump It Up Walls and how they help students. Like you, I am also very wary of posting things up in the classroom or in the hallways that are more for “show” — buzzwords of the day, etc… I look forward to hearing further reflections as your students continue working with the Bump It Up Walls – sounds promising ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thanks Shannon! I really appreciate that! As a teacher, I’m happy to put time into things that help students, but I’m not someone that wants to do something just for “show.” I loved that the Bump It Up Walls really are benefiting the students and letting them take control of their own learning too. I look forward to using them more with my class!


  2. Hi Aviva,

    Thanks for sharing. This sounds similar to the effective feedback wall I use in my classroom. I have student work up with 2 stars and a wish. Beside the work I have the learning goal and success criteria as well as an anchor chart to match. I have arrows pointing out the success criteria in the anchor chart. The wish (which is based on the success criteria) becomes the student’s goal for the next piece of work (such as writing a small moment). It also is a focus when conferencing with the student (beside the wall which I noticed you did).

    I think I might try a bump it up wall where the levels are shown and student work is mounted as you described in your post. I like the idea of having arrows pointing to parts of the student work with suggestions on how they can bump up their work to the next level to meet a success criteria. Sounds like valuable feedback.

    Best regards,

    • Thanks for your comment, Patrick! I love the explanation of what you’re already doing, and how you could use a Bump It Up Wall too. Your feedback idea has me thinking … ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again!

  3. Aviva – I am continually amazed at the work you do with your students. I can hardly believe that our lunch time conversation on March Break inspired you to do all of this. It sounds like your students have embraced the Bump It Up walls and are really looking at the success criteria to help improve their learning. I truly believe that we have to make learning transparent for students and what you have created certainly does that. I was excited to see the videos on the Glog of your students interacting with the Bump It Up walls and this has inspired me to get back into the classrooms at my school and have more conversations with students using my Live Scribe pen to record their thinking and learning to share with others. I also love how the use of success criteria and the Bump It Up walls naturally leads to self or peer evaluation and effective feedback. I look forward to hearing more about how your walls will evolve as your students continue to interact with them. Thanks for sharing your story. – Dale.

    • Thanks Dale! That really means a lot! Your idea of using the Livescribe Pen to record thoughts on the Bump It Up Walls made me think of taking videos of these discussions too. It’s great to see the students making such use of these walls, and I’m so glad that you inspired me to set them up! I can’t wait to see what you do at your school with these walls.

      Thanks again for the inspiration!

  4. Aviva,
    Like you, teachers in our board have been using the bump-it-up strategy with success. A daily visual reminder of what is needed as students practice the task has been very helpful in my intermediate classroom. This year, I’ve been inspired by our LNR teachers to create what they call a Matrix. Once the students have written their formative assessment, we deconstruct the level 4 exemplar, after asking the question, “what makes it a level 4?” In groups they create sticky notes which we compile into similar categories. This leads into a peer and self assessment, always referring back to the exemplar and success criteria. The assessment checklist is similar to the bump-it-up as they must focus on what is met or not met. As I conference with the students to see how realistic their assessment is, they are showing they are aware of their needed next step. Like you, I find that process the most exciting. The link below shows my first attempt. I need to add colour into the exemplar text to match with the corresponding success criteria. http://www.flickr.com/photos/hdurnin/5547751775/

    • Heather, thank you so much for sharing! I’ve heard of this matrix before, but never really seen it used. Having the visual really helps me out! I love what you’ve shared here, and you’ve definitely given me a lot to think about.

      This certainly is a very exciting process! Thanks again for the comment!

  5. Aviva,
    What a wonderful account of student’s taking pride and ownership in their work. The Bump it Up Walls just demosntrate how authentic and accessible feedback go a long way to support student achievement. Your excitement shows through, as does that of the students. What a tremendous asset you are to the lives of your students and the teaching profession!

    • Wow! Thanks Erin for such a lovely comment. This really was exciting for all of us, and I look forward to more exciting times as we continue to explore Bump It Up Walls!


  6. Hi Aviva,
    What a great way to empower kids to be responsible for their learning. I love your idea of a bump it up wall and look forward to trying it out with my students in my program. I work with primary age children on the autism spectrum who are visual learners. I believe by them seeing what is required of them to “bump up” their social skills I may see more motivation to work on skills that are more challenging for them. Thanks for the idea!

    • What a wonderful idea, Lorie! You’ve given me something to think about now too. I love the thought of a social skills bump it up wall.

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Hi Aviva,
    As I read through your post about Bump it up walls, I found myself nodding and agreeing with much of what you were writing about. The transition in our Board from Performance Wall last year to this version made me feel like it was just that, a version that looked pretty on the wall but was mostly for me.
    However, I do find that the Bump it Up wall is working in my room as well. The work samples are sometimes ones that we create as a class and sometimes they are ones that come from their work, either way, it works. Kids are up and out of their seats checking their work against the Bump it up wall and asking each other how it compares to what is on the Bump it up wall.
    What a great success!

    • Thanks for the comment, Isabel! Glad to hear of your success story with the Bump It Up Wall too. It’s great to see how it can build independence in learners of all ages!


  8. I love the idea of the “Bump it up Wall.” We can all strive to “bump things up” in life. I am always striving to improve my work in all areas of my life. What a great visual for kids. You don’t have to visit the teachers supply store to put this teaching strategy into effect. Thanks for the explanation.

  9. Aviva, first of all sorry for being so tardy with reading my Reader feed. I seriously would like to comment on every one of your posts. You – and your students – are inspiring! However, I picked this post to comment on because I do feel this strategy would genuinely help my students to reach their potential. Thank you very much for a concrete strategy that I can move forward with, with excitement and enthusiasm.

    • Wow! Thanks Anne! I’m so glad that you enjoy the posts, and I’m thrilled that you found this strategy so helpful too. I would love to know how this goes over in your classroom.

      Thank you for the comment!

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