Super Improver Wall is a unique piece of the Whole Brain Teaching system. It is a truly democratic approach to recognizing and rewarding student improvement. Using the Super Improver Wall, students earn stars as indications of personal improvement. Since stars are awarded on an individual level, each student is only competing against their last effort in a particular area. It’s perfectly individualized and differentiated for the needs of each learner!
Introducing the Super Improver Wall
Begin using the Super Improver Wall about the second week of school. In order to create positive anticipation among your students, unveil the Super Improver Wall one day at a time. For example…
- Monday: Post the name cards on the wall – that’s it. Don’t draw attention to it, but just let your students notice it on their own and ask, “Why are our names on the wall?” At this point, you can play it casual or really amp up your excitement level…whatever suits your teaching style. I like to be somewhat coy about the whole thing, so I simply shrug my shoulders, give a Mona Lisa-type smile and say, “Oh, that…you’ll find out soon enough.”
- Tuesday: Now put the colored cards indicating the ten levels on the wall. However, flip them over and post them facing the wall so the names of the levels are hidden. Continue to build curiosity among your students about what you are doing each day.
- Wednesday: Turn the level cards over so the names are revealed. Smile and go on about your day’s lessons.
- Thursday: Time to put the title “Super Improver Wall” on the wall. However, keep building the tension by only posting the first letters of the title – S…I…W…”What does that mean?” your students will wonder.
- Friday: Finally, the big reveal! Post the remaining letters so the entire title, “Super Improver Wall” is displayed. Now you’re ready to explain this wonderful new game to your class.
Setting Up Your Super Improver Wall
When setting up your Super Improver Wall, first decide where in your classroom to display it. I have lots of wall space in my classroom and not so much bulletin board space, so I went with a corner in my classroom. You decide where it’s most convenient for you, but I would avoid putting it too low or too high because you will be using it several times each day and you want to maintain its accessibility.
Next, decide on your ten levels. I chose ten different colors and went with a sports theme for the names of each level, but that’s an individual choice. I think the colors help kids easily identify their level and the sports theme is just another way for them to emotionally connect to the game. Use your creativity when it comes to the levels. My school’s mascot is a pirate and I might someday re-name my levels to fit a pirate theme. Another idea would be to create level names that match a school-wide theme. For example, this year my school has a carnival theme so I could have created names to reflect that concept. Have fun with it!
I purchased nine colors of copy paper, one for each level. The first level is white, which I already had in supply. If you can’t afford copy paper, make signs with construction paper and label them with a black Sharpie marker. I chose to use a standard 3″ x 5″ size for my signs for two reasons. One, that was a size I could easily see from across the room without taking away too much wall space from my Power Pix. Two, I could store all my materials in a standard index card plastic storage box as shown in the photo on the left.
Super Improver Wall – Levels Cards (sports theme, but you can edit it to fit your own theme)
Each student should have their own name card on white paper since white is the first level. Create additional name cards for students in each of the other nine colors. I’ve included a link to my Name Cards. Since it’s a Microsoft Word document, you can edit it for your own students. Simply type in their names where it says “student.” There are 10 boxes on the name cards – one for each star a student must earn. You can put star-shaped stickers in each box, but I simply like drawing them on with an ink pen.
To save paper, I made my name cards serve two purposes. First, obviously, it indicates what their current level is on the Super Improver Wall. Once they are ready to advance to the next level, I take the card down and give it to the student because it now serves its second purpose – as a certificate of achievement. On the back of each name card I state what level they have just completed and what the next level is for that student. This way I don’t need another set of certificates to send home with the students. The name card does it all! Below are the links for creating an achievement certificate for each level. I printed the name cards first, then put the paper back into my printer and printed the achievement levels on the back. All of the links below are in Microsoft Word so you can edit it to suit your own theme.
- Level 1 – Fan
- Level 2 – Rookie
- Level 3 – Starter
- Level 4 – Leader
- Level 5 – Captain
- Level 6 – Phenom
- Level 7 – Super Star
- Level 8 – MVP
- Level 9 – Hall of Fame
- Level 10 – Living Legend
Starting around the fourth level, I designate some levels as Photo Levels. This is another incentive for the students to advance on the Super Improver Wall. It’s also a fun way to reward students and strengthens the sense of community in the classroom. Once a student reaches a Photo Level, take a photo of that child with some of their friends but ask them to make silly faces and/or goofy poses. Get the photo developed right away (that evening is ideal) and post it on the wall the next day. Here’s the catch – turn it so the picture is facing the wall and all you can see is the white back of the photo. In order to see their photo, the student has to earn more stars. Some teachers require only five stars before revealing the picture, but others make them earn all ten. Your choice. This is a fun and easy way to fight the dreaded habituation with the Super Improver Wall and keep it fresh and effective all year long. Don’t make every level a Photo Level, however. Save it for just a few levels to increase its power.
Living Legend Level…and Beyond!
Since there are ten levels on the Super Improver Wall and a student must earn ten stars to advance, that requires 100 improvements. By the end of the school year, it’s possible you will have a few students surpass this goal. Not to worry! Just assign them to Living Legend Level 2.0, then 3.0, etc. Consider some extra special reward you might present to this select group of students. One teacher I know gave them a pizza party. Another gave them a reward that fit with their school-wide behavior program. You decide what you want to do for those few kids who exceed even your wildest expectations.
If you haven’t watched it already from an earlier post I did about the Super Improver Wall, I would encourage you to watch Deanna Schuler’s video. It is truly inspirational! If you are having some doubts about whether you should use this component of the Whole Brain Teaching system, I think this video will banish them forever!