WBT & The Super Improver Wall

One of my most favorite parts of the Whole Brain Teaching Conference was learning about the Super Improver Wall.

The idea stems from The Super Improver Story:
Two students have a foot race. The faster student wins and she gets an "A" from the teacher. The slower student loses and gets an "F". Every day, they have the same race. Every day, the result is the same. After a while, the fast student loafs and the slow student quits. Of course! The grading system is unfair and doesn't motivate either kid! The teacher creates a new race. Now, the fast student only gets an "A" when she beats her previous best time. Same with the slow student. Now, each student always runs as hard as possible!
Moral: The only fair race is the one you run against yourself.

What is the Super Improver Wall?

It is a way of motivating students to improve from wherever they are- it's self-differentiating, which is great!!

Watch this wonderful video from Chris Biffle that describes it all:

Here are some examples from the WBT Midwest Conference:
sports theme
animal theme
universe/space theme
I know it looks like there are lots of pieces and parts, but it makes a ton of sense, promise :)

On the left, you will notice the hierarchy that all kids will move up during the year- starting with Rookie and then (maybe) hitting Living Legend by May or June.

Each level is represented by a different color and they get more complex in size and color as you get near the top (Living Legend can be gold, glittery, larger, etc.- it's a really big deal!)

The Student cards on the right are a bulletin board display with each child's name displayed. The students start the year on white (Rookie) and their name color changes as they receive stars.

10 Stars= Go up one level

How does a student receive a star?

Any time they improve on something! This can be an academic focus, a behavior focus, anything that they did better than before.

I really like this focus- in the past, I have rewarded kids based on good behavior- basically, doing what they ought to be doing by following the rules, working quietly during work time, etc. This was easy for my well-behaved kids and hard for my rule-benders and there wasn't the desire to improve like this wall.

With the Super Improver Wall, kids are always striving to do better- yay! This could be improving their score on a spelling test, mastering a multiplication level, remembering to raise their hand twice that day to participate, etc.

When they show improvement, they receive a star on their name card. This can be as simple as a hand-drawn star by the teacher or an actual star sticker- up to you, but keep it simple :)

Because there are 10 levels and 10 stars equal 1 level, that's 100 stars over the course of the year, so a child could receive no more than 2 stars a day. In reality, they shouldn't receive more than one star a day, otherwise they will hit Living Legend in December..... eeek! I think that with the focus on improvement, though, that will be doable.

Worried about your higher kids that always do well on everything? Have them set their goals for improvement- this discussion will be a great way to help them rise to new challenges, which is sometimes a struggle to always think up on your own :)

What does the Bulletin Board look like during the year?

Because kids are in different spots at different times, it will be a hodge-podge of colors and stars. Here are some examples from Chris Rekstad's (WBT guru) classroom:
Early in the year: notice the hierarchy is on the left and the variety of background colors
Later in the year: the kids around the border are "Living Legends" and have their picture taken (ooo!) and get fancy gold paper backgrounds (aaah!). Kids of ALL skill levels are Living Legends (yay!!)

In this example, their stars are located on index cards with their names on their desks to make it easy for the teacher to walk around and draw a star when he sees improvement. That management technique seemed nice to me, since I don't want to be running back over to the board all of the time and probably couldn't reach the top of my board without standing on a chair!

What do you think of the Super Improver Wall?

This was a pretty short intro, but what are your thoughts? Rewarding for improvement instead of expected behavior, having kids motivated to do better, easy-peasy rewards for me to manage (colored paper and hand-drawn stars= no problem!), and having kids at ALL skill levels reach the highest "Living Legend" were the pieces that really got me excited :)

Have you ever used the Super Improver Wall? Do you have examples? Leave your experience in a comment below and we can all learn from you! 

I'll be completely honest- I am still loving my Clip Chart, so I am not sure how I will incorporate this idea this year. So many good ideas out there!!!


  1. Thanks for the font link! =)

    I have "Star Cards" in my class that I punch using my star shaped hole punch (made on vistaprint). At the end of day, students who are still on the "good day" parts of the clip chart get star cards punched. They can also earn a star punch for doing something awesome. This year, I'm simply going to have 10 colors and they can earn these colors/levels each time they finish a star card and put it up on the wall. I was already doing half of the Super Improvers and didn't even know it! =)

    Emily @ Second Grade Silliness 

    1. This will be on my new classroom website when I stop hating WordPress. =)


    2. I really liked the idea of levels and moving up the different levels- I think that's such a great way to keep kids motivated to keep trying all year long :)


  2. I would like to use both too. Here is what I am thinking. When each student reaches the top of the clip chart, they get a star on their card. Students who follow directions, assist others, participate in class, doing something unexpectedly kind, etc.....move up the clip chart to the top. When students make a goal, they get a star. I like the idea of using a punch card since my wall space is limited, but I still want to have the "hall of fame board." Perhaps it is just a frame color change around their picture. I also do trimester drawings for prizes, so I would let the students put their completed punch card into the drawing. The only challenge I see is that I might need more levels to move through, because I could see the kids totally buying into this.

  3. I used the Super Improvers Wall for the first time this year, and loved it! At the end of the school year, several students said it was the best thing about Second Grade!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  4. Love this idea! Thanks for posting the video. Definitely plan on implementing into my 4th grade classroom. I've been looking for a way to motivate students and this Wall will surely do it.

  5. I love the idea of the super improver wall (especially the sports themed version) because it allows all students to see success no matter their starting level. I will definitely be implementing it this year, but will keep behavior separate on the clip chart. I will use the super improver wall for improvements in academics and effort.

    1. I'm thinking of doing the same thing (keeping the super improvers separate) this coming school year, but also giving a star on the super improvers wall for when students reach star student on the clip chart. I see you replied to this post a year ago. How did it go for you?

  6. Thank you for the WBT things. I am always on the look out for WBT. I'm your newest follower.
    The Hive

  7. I like the idea of using the Super Improver Wall but I also have used the Clip Chart. I need to ponder if it's possible to use them both!

  8. Great explanation of the SIW!

    My story of the SIW is pretty long... but here is a link to my blog post about it! My story is a tear jerker... so have a hanky handy!


  9. I love this post. It's given me lots to think about as far as behavior management this school year. Hmmmm . . .


    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

  10. I plan on using the SIW and the clip chart next year. I think I will look for improvements and give stickers out for the wall for improvements I see. If I see a child making a poor choice I will use the clip chart. At least that is what I am thinking as of today.


  11. Just watched the video and got a lot more details about the SIW. This could definitely be useful in my classroom. I really like that it doesn't have to be the same thing for theWhole year . You can set the goal for the day and watch the students strive to beat their previous record. Hallway behavior will definitely be a goal, scores on spelling tests, Pre test and post test scores for our math tests, and maybe a personal goal each student sets could be all things I focus on throughout the year. School starts in 3 weeks. I've gotta get on the ball of watching the wbt videos. They've been on my to do list all summer! Stephanie, can you possibly make a suggestion on how to do this without all the colors? My class colors are blue, mint green, and brown and I'm trying to stick with the HET model where you do earth tones and not a lot of stuff on the wall. How can I mesh both?

  12. Great info on the SIW, Stephanie! I am HOPING to be able to use my clip chart to focus on student behaviors, where as the SIW wall will focus more on academics. I was thinking that students who make it to the top level of the clip chart can get an automatic star on the SIW... but... I don't want this all to be classroom management overkill! Still have some thinking to do :)

    EduKate and Inspire

    1. How did that go? I'm planning on trying that this year.

  13. Thanks for posting this great idea!! I have been thinking about something new to do in my classroom and I really like the motivational concept behind the Super Improver Wall. I will definitely be thinking of a way to implement this into my classroom!!

    Ka'Shawna@ http://fantabulous4thgrade.blogspot.com/

  14. First I wanted to say that you are the reason I looked into whole brain teaching. I was intrigued by your Class, Yes! ideas. I looked up the ideas and fell in love with it. My biggest concern was if my students were to old, but thought it was worth a try this year as last year I struggled with classroom management. So, I set out to do it. I am also using the clip chart for behavior and wondered how to incorporate the SIW with that. I agree with Kate and thought to use the SIW for ways similar to hers. I liked the idea of focusing the clip chart more on behavior and the SIW on other things like test, working harder in group work, walking correctly in the hall way, or maybe a teaching saying how well a particular student has improved in a special class. I loved this and thought that I would work towards splitting it up into two semesters and having a Super Improvers celebration at the end of the first semester. This will kick it up for other students to want to work towards that goal the following semester. Just some thoughts and ideas.

    Teacher on the LOOSE!

  15. I loved your post on the SIW and have decided to use it this year. I introduced it to the class yesterday and I have already had students ask for ideas on how they could earn a star. I am having trouble coming up improvements regarding behavior for those "always good" students. I know once we get more into academics it will be easier, but I need a few extra ideas now. I would appreciate any ideas from those who have already done it. Thanks!

  16. How do you keep track of the goals to know when students have achieved them? With large class sizes I want to make sure I'm not missing kids. Thanks!