It Doesn’t Always Need To Be Pretty

Not only do I teach primary students, but I’m a primary teacher at heart. I’m not artistic, but I love for things to look pretty. When work goes up on the wall, I think about background colours. I try to make nice clean lines and pretty titles. The students do the work, but I like when the display looks nice. This week, I’ve started to reconsider this.

Last year, I had my first experience with a “bump it up wall.” I was initially hesitant about making one, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Students really used this wall, and their work really improved. I knew that I would be making a “bump it up wall” again, and I was excited to do so.

This year though, I decided to do something different. Our current Grade 1 and Grade 2 TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways) is on letter writing, and last week, my students wrote some fantastic letters to their pen pals in Ohio. They brainstormed ideas for their letters, wrote a rough copy, edited their work, and typed a good copy to send out. I took three different letter samples. In this case, all of the letters were at least a Level 3 letter, so I took one of the Level 3 samples and bumped it down to a Level 2. I changed the names, but the rest of the work was done by the students.

I then photocopied the letters, and I had the students work in partners to determine which letter sample was the Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4. Then the students wrote down suggestions on how to “bump up” the Level 2 letter to a Level 3 and the Level 3 letter to a Level 4. We met together as a class, and students shared their ideas. I wrote down what they shared on chart paper, and we cut out chart paper arrows. Then we went over to the wall.

Embedly Powered

Embedly Powered

Together, we put up the success criteria (written together previously), big idea, and learning goal. We then added the three letters and the arrows. One Grade 1 student took some sentence strips and wrote Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 for us. We put this on the wall too. No, the wall is not beautiful. It’s not all colour-coordinated and it’s not all typed on pretty paper. But, as the students noted themselves, the “bump it up wall” was made by them. They know what everything says. They wrote the ideas, so they will use the ideas too. Success!

Embedly Powered

What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear them!


4 thoughts on “It Doesn’t Always Need To Be Pretty

  1. Aviva,
    You involved them in the process showing them what good writers do. Couldn’t ask for anything more.
    This is also a teachable moment for parents. Many teachers only display the final product and that doesn’t really give the parents insight on how their child processes and works things through. Your wall gives parents that vital information and helps give them a better understanding of their child and how you are assisting in the learning.
    I love what you do!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, JoAnn! I really hadn’t thought about the parent piece, but showing the photographs of the process really helps them see what’s being done and why too. I email the parents a link to my blog, so they can read these posts as well.

      Thanks again for all of the encouragement and support!

  2. This looks great. Success criteria is also a wonderful tool for students to start taking a more active role in their math understanding and learning. Say the word and we could work on this together. 🙂

  3. Thanks @kmcc for your comment! I would love to work with you on Success Criteria for math. This is something I haven’t tried before, and I do see the benefit of it in Language for sure. I know that it would be great in math too. Let’s talk!

    Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *