Whole Brain Teaching: Using a Super Improver Wall to Motivate Students

As a classroom teacher, the Super Improver Wall is one of my favorite ways to motivate students and build a positive classroom culture.  I first learned about the Super Improver Wall at the Whole Brain Teaching midwest conference.  You can read more about what I learned at the conference {here}.  The WBT website has a lot of great ideas about how to use the Wall.  Of course, I have tweaked and adapted the concept to work in my classroom!  This post will tell you all about how I use the Super Improver Wall to motivate my students and build a classroom community.  


I used a square pocket chart and construction paper squares to build my Super Improver Wall.  This is how the wall looks at the beginning of the school year-- all of the students have white cards.  The concept of the wall is that as students make improvements, they move up through the colors on the chart.  My students use a star hole puncher to punch a hole in their card.  Once they have five hole punches, they move up to the next card color.  Here is a close up of my colors and the names I have chosen for each level.


{Rookie, Learner, Leader, Captain, Rising Star, Pro, Expert, Genius, Superstar, Legend}

To add a star on their card, students need to show some sort of improvement-- either academic or behavioral.  I either verbally tell the student to "add a star" or I write "add a star!" on an improved paper.  Here are some of the ways students commonly get to add a star in my classroom:

-Improving their score on a particular content standard
-Improving handwriting
-Using an interesting vocabulary word in their writing
-Doing a random act of kindness
-Improving classroom behavior
-Improving their score on a benchmark assessment
-Reading a challenging book
-Completing challenge work
-Going above and beyond on an assignment
-And the list goes on!

The beauty of the Super Improver Wall is that you can tweak it throughout the year to meet your needs.  You can also personalize it to meet individual students' needs.  Last year, I offered small incentives when students moved to the next card color.  This year, the "reward" is completely intrinsic and the wall works even better!  Now, the students are less focused on a small prize and more focused on their own improvement AND the improvements of their peers!

During the first week of school, I drive home the concept that the wall is not a competition-- my second graders really seem to understand this.  When a student adds their 5th star and moves to the next card color, the classroom is at a standstill!  I don't say a word about it-- the students just notice and everyone starts clapping for the student!  It is truly amazing to see my students celebrate their peers.

Throughout the year, it's fun to spice up the Super Improver Wall levels.  For example, when students reach a specific color, you can add a fun celebration-- not a tangible prize, but something to make the student feel special.  I love to let the student stand on my guided reading table and have his or her peers give a standing ovation!  It's also fun to take a picture of the student and add it to the wall when they reach Super Star or Legend-- it would be neat to have pictures of previous years' legends up on the wall!  The sky's the limit!

My class had a great suggestion this year to add a classroom Super Improver card.  We pick a specific item we want to work on as a class and when we improve, we add a star to our classroom card.  We are currently working on packing up faster at the end of the day! {I hate snowsuit season!!!}

One thing I LOVE about the Super Improver Wall is that I have set it up so the students manage it themselves.  Under the wall, I have a desk that keeps all of the supplies.  I bought the construction paper squares from Michaels.  They came in a huge block of rainbow colors, so the student just tears off the color he or she needs from the block.  The silver and gold colors are scrapbook paper that I cut ahead of time.  On top of the desk, I keep a cup with the hole puncher and a permanent marker.  When students move to the next color, they simply grab the color that they need next, write their name, and place their new card in the chart.  I encourage students to take their old cards home to place on the refrigerator!

The picture below shows what our wall currently looks like {you can see that students really enjoy creating their own cards!} We are midway through the year.  As you can see, all of my students have made improvements, but they are not all on the same color.  I love the Super Improver concept because it gives attention to ALL students, instead of only focusing on the "high" students who receive a lot of praise and attention.


The Super Improver Wall has truly helped to build our classroom community!  Please let me know if you have any questions about implementing the wall in your own classroom!

10 comments

  1. I have just started reading about and using WBT over the past month or so. I have not read about the Super Improvers Wall yet so am thankful for this introduction and visuals! I love the little glimpse into how others use things:)

    Tammy
    The Resourceful Apple

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Tammy! I use many WBT components in my classroom-- LOVE how WBT has increased student engagement in my classroom! Let me know if you have any questions! :)

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  2. I'm in the same boat as Tammy! I started using WBT last year and haven't learned too much about the Super Improvers Wall, but, with the push to have our students take charge of their learning gains, this seems like a great idea, and one that I will continue to read about. Pinned your post and loved it!
    Lori
    Teaching With Love and Laughter
    luvyorkies@gmail.com

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  3. Hey lady! Long time! :) Quick question for you. I started the wall with my class this year, but it kind of fell away as the year went on since there were so many other incentives going on in the room. I also felt like it was hard to keep track of who's goal was what... do you have any advice for how you keep track of each student's goal?

    Amanda
    Reaching for the TOP!

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    1. Hi Amanda! Good to hear from you! For the Super Improver Wall, I don't really give specific goals to students-- but that's not to say that you can't do it that way, too! A student could add a star for many different types of improvements... I keep track of how they are doing in my head! The only specific goal we work on is for our class improver card. If you want to give specific goals to students, maybe you could try writing their goal directly on their Super Improver card??

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  4. Hi Kate! So excited to see your post on the Super Improvers Team! I call it the Heart of my classroom! I had six make it all the way to Living Legend last year, so their pics are on permanent display in my classroom. My current students see them on campus and treat them like celebrities! They are definitely motivated to see their pics possibly join this elite group! The cool thing about this tool is that it allows everyone to shine, no matter their academic level! It's all about individual improvements! For your readers, I recommend the free webcasts at this link: http://www.livestream.com/wholebrainteaching1/folder You may also contact me at NancyStoltenberg@WholeBrainTeaching.com I am the Director of WBT Certifiction and the Director of International Relations. Thanks again for promoting WBT!! Nancy
    Mrs. Stoltenberg's Second Grade Class

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  5. I just wanted to let you know that I linked to a few of your pictures when writing a blog about The Super Improvers Wall. I was looking for a simple visual and since I am going to be starting it this year, I didn't have any pictures from last year to use in my post. Your blog is great, I'm your newest follower (thanks to the super improver wall google search that took me here!)
    -Ashlee
    TeacherWillRunforBooks

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  6. Love the pocket chart idea and that the kids manage everything by themselves. I think I remember that the WBT site said that kids move up after getting 10 stars. I noticed that you only do 5. Have you tried it with 10? I'm just curious about your reasoning. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Bethany! Yes, I originally started with 10 stars, but with 26 students, 5 stars for moving up to the next level became much more practical and easy to manage! I have a lot of other behavior management systems happening in my classroom, but if the SIW was your only system, I could see 10 stars as much more manageable. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. I'm thinking of redoing my Super Improvers Wall & loved reading about yours! I especially like the superstar & legend paper :) I pinned this for future reference - thanks!
    Jen

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