Help Students Bump It Up!

How do we make assessment meaningful in a way that helps students to see what the criteria is they are being evaluated on

How do we involve them in this process to decide on the evaluation of what makes a piece of writing good?

One way that I have used over the years is a Bump It Up Board.

These boards can be used in any type of assessment but writing…when everyone maybe writing something different, a common idea of what makes a good story or report good or not is a valuable discussion.

What is it?

A Bump It Up Board is a visual representation of a type of rubric.

It used exemplars of student writing to showcase the ‘look-fors’ for that level.

It’s goal is to help students to move from one level to another. It is not simply a rubric that tells them a final mark, but it is a path with strategies that a student can follow to improve their skills.

Grab the bump it up board headers below.

What You Need

You need Board space (or a trifold poster board)

You can use coloured paper for headings and to colour code levels.

Arrows and sticky notes to encourage students to aim higher and to push their writing

You need exemplars of student writing. Not perhaps of your current student samples but perhaps ones from former students, hybrid examples, ministry of education exemplars, OWA or EQAO

To grab the headings you see on my board enter your email below and I will send you the download.


How to Start

Start with success criteria.

Build this with students so that they know what makes a good story.

Give your students time to write and practice this skill before you assess. Students have a much easier time in my experience in assessing writing when they have their own experiences to draw from. This is why I don’t do this activity right away. I want them to have written a few stories so that our discussion on assessment has meaning and context.


Once students have a few of their own samples and a clear reference of the elements of a good story from your success criteria. Perhaps they have even conferences with you a time or two about their own writing you are ready to moderate your samp


Using your writing samples review the success criteria and show students a writing sample. Ask them what was done well and what wasn’t. Ask them to give it a level and justify their choice.

  • Why would you give this a level two?
  • Use qualifiers such as poor, some, good, great.
  • If they are not ready help them by giving them the language to talk about writing in terms of assessment. However, if you have conferences with them and evaluate read-aloud, shared reading, and guided reading texts your students should have some of this common vocabulary already.

As students are answering this with each writing sample write this down.

To learn even more about creating a bump it up board and how to use it check out this video.


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