Saturday, August 25, 2012

Super Improver Wall... slowly revealed!

Most of you know I am very passionate about the Super Improver Wall. I used it the last three weeks of school (last year) and noticed a change in my students I didn't previously recognize needed to happen!

I wanted to REALLY make my new students WANT the SIW. I decided that I would slowly reveal the SIW. Here is how I did it.

First Day of School
The First Day of school I had all the names on board. It wasn't even labeled. Many students asked what the names were for... I told them they weren't ready to find out yet. I got several pouty lips, a couple of scowls, and a few more curious looks.

Friday: Day 3 of school
On the third day of school (the first Friday), I put the initials, SIW, above the names. Many students noticed and started trying to guess what that meant. They asked me... I pretended to think about it then said, "No, you are still not ready!" Oh the frustration! Some of the guesses: Silly Invention Wall, Student Interest Wall, Students in World (because there is a map above it).

Monday of First full week of school
The whole title showed up! I heard a couple of students say... "Well that doesn't tell me anything!"  "What does that mean?" ... the one that got my attention most...."Improver... well I guess that doesn't mean me"

On Tuesday, one of my students that had been doing a lot of attention seeking behaviors (class clown type stuff) was doing a really good job (I almost think he was being sarcastic). If I said class class, he said yes yes and immediately put hands in listening position. The look on his face was comical and overly dramatic. I decided... I would POUNCE on that. So I bragged on him and headed to the wall with an excited look on my face ... reached for my stickers and then very dramatically... (what can I say he inspired me)  slumped my shoulders. "Class, Class (in a very sad voice)" "Yes Yes" "I was so excited for a minute I thought I was going to do something with the Super Improver Wall... but then I realized it isn't time. Maybe you can handle it"
(A few complaints and whines) "We can handle it!"   "I know that A________" is ready... he almost got a star... OH ... I said too much.... we better get busy on Writing before I spill the beans before you are ready" The rest of the day they all eyed the wall with curiosity. A_______, well he was putty in my hands for the rest the day... Yep you guessed it... Teacher Heaven was taking over! 

Wednesday - Officially one week of school under our belts!
Day Six: Notice the levels are on the board but face against the board. My students were curious... talked about the colors... but otherwise didn't care. Except A_______, he wanted to know if he would have been another color if the class had been ready. "Oh... good question.... you will find out on Friday" A______ was on his best behavior... the rest of my class... well... they were not! Wednesday was a rough day... and I should have realized they were telling me that they were ready for the Super Improver Wall.

Thursday... End of the day.
At the end of the day Thursday, I made a big deal out of saying I had completely forgotten about the Super Improver Wall... "Guess what ... you all are finally ready. I can turn these papers over...Oh I can't wait to tell you (all this happening minutes before afternoon announcements) Oh this great... I am so excited... You are going to love this (purposely stalling because I want the announcements to interupt so that I won't have time). The announcements come on and I let my shoulders drop, and lip stick out. I dismiss the kids the walkers and bike riders and say... okay I guess we have to wait until tomorrow. A_____ comes up and says... "So are we all rookie's?" "Oh... good prediction... wow... tell me why you think that"

OKAY.... WARNING... You may need to either sit down ...or grab a tissue.... don't say I didn't warn you.

"I think we are all rookies BECAUSE (clap) our names are in white and the word rookie is on white. Rookie is a new sports players and we are new third graders. So we are rookies BECAUSE  (clap) we are new!" \

"Amazing Critical Thinking A_____________! Let's tell the class that tomorrow!"

The kids come in a look at the board right away! "There isn't anything new!" "Nothing has changed!" "What is next?" "Will you tell us now?"

"Sorry kiddos... we have to go to Art right away this morning. I will tell you right after Art!"

I pick the kids up from Art and get ready to hear the already routine sounds of "Are we going to take a restroom break?" "Can we get our snacks?" "Can I fill my water bottle?" ... it didn't happen. First of all the Art teacher uses WBT too and had to give my notes for two of my students who had trouble with rule 1. Those notes would get stapled in their planners. NEXT, we started heading for the room and ALL of them are smiling... no one is asking about bathroom or snack. We get to the classroom door and the hands started going up (Ugh... here it comes... the questions as usual... even though it is OUR SCHEDULED bathroom time and we have been grabbing our snacks afterwards everyday!)

I was wrong... I called on a student, "Are you going to tell us about the name wall now?" SMILES and hopeful looks. Some calls out, "It's called the Super Improver Wall" I smile but say, "Rule 2" They respond raise your hand for permission to speak". I take them in the room... they head for their seats. They sit down ... hands in listening position. I soak it in! I say, "CARPET". "Carpet, Carpet, Carpet". They sit more quickly than I have seen... I forgot to count... and they forget to remind me!

I begin telling them about the Wall. I talk about the levels. Many ask about what the words mean. I help them make the sports connections. My boys nod their heads eagerly and laugh when I struggle to think of examples of athletes at the various levels.

I talk about the stars that they can receive. I tell them examples of how to earn them. We talk about academic improvements and behavior improvements. We do teach okay and they teach each other the difference.

"Any Questions?" More than half of the class raise their hand. THREE TIMES (at least) I heard the same question. "Can you take a star away?" "No once you earn it... the star stays there" I answer this questions three times. Finally, they ask again. So I say, "HANDS and EYES!"

"Once you earn a star NO ONE can take it away! Not Mrs. Schuler (me), not Ms. Picky (my other WBT personality), not Mrs. R_______ (my para), not Ms. R______ (our principal), not Dr. P______ (our superintendent), NOBODY!"

We go take our restroom break and get our snacks. TIME FOR READ TO SELF TIME! We had reached 10 minutes of Silent, Focused Reading. They all get started right away. I look at the students who yesterday after 2 minutes closed her book and crossed her arms. I see her look up once, then again. She is pouty because she got a note in art. So she is staring at her book. She has really been defiant this week and I have been frustrated. Then I a light bulb went on! YESTERDAY she put her book away. Today she is looking at it... not reading... but isn't that an improvement? (small yes I know... but I need her to buy in). I go over and say "I am so excited! I know who the first improvement star is going to. (She looks at the girl across from her who is reading quietly) Do you know who it is?" "No" in a little murmur voice. "It's you" she looks at me in disbelief. "But... I got a note in Art" "That was in Art, and I know next time you are going to follow directions quickly. I am giving you a star because yesterday you gave up during read to self time. Today you have been looking at your book the whole time" HUGE SMILE "So I improved?"  "Yes you did. I will give you the star at the end of Read to self time."

I made a HUGE deal out of the star... and she loved it.

Okay by the end of the day... there were six stars on the board. My day was better... Super Improver Wall is going to change some lives again this year!


  1. I think I might borrow that slow reveal next year! Oh, and I've awarded you the Fabulous Blog Award. Stop by my blog to learn more!

    Julie aka Southern Teacher

  2. I love the slow reveal!!! I have to remember to be patient.

  3. I've been looking at a lot of blogs about SIW. Yours by far has been great! I actually read it all the through! I love the slow reveal too! Hmmm may have to use that!! Thanks

  4. Wonderful! I read your whole article. Now, I plan to start WBT; may be I'll introduce SIW after a month.

  5. how and when do you change the colors for the students? (I have ordered the book, but haven't received it yet)

  6. I'm so glad I discovered this post. I'm using a Super Improver wall for the first time this year, and this is DEFINITELY how I plan to introduce it. Thanks!
    Laughter and Consistency