St Aidan’s students ‘bump up’ their writing

Word power: St Aidan’s Year 5 students (from left) Sienna Israel, Sebastian North, Helena Tsoukleris and Archie Daley know how to edit effectively.

Students at St Aidan’s Catholic Primary School Maroubra have learnt the secret to improving their writing, grades and confidence.

Editing is a focus of the ‘Bump it up the wall’ strategy students in Kindergarten and Years 4, 5, and 6 trialled last term. Relieving Principal Steve Lemos discovered its effectiveness while completing a PhD on the strategies teachers use to improve student writing outcomes.

‘Bump it up’ asks students to read over their work and respond to teacher feedback as they edit, improving the quality of language and punctuation they use to reach a higher ‘level’ in their writing. Progress is tracked by an anonymous emoji per student that moves up a chart on their classroom wall. Their grades have skyrocketed within a month of using the strategy.

“It’s a really good, fun way of editing,” said Year 5 student Archie Daley. “Feedback is important. Without it you don’t really know what to improve and I would keep writing the same thing.”

Sebastian North, 10, is writing a book in his spare time. Like his schoolwork, the adventure story has benefitted from the strategy.

“It’s a good challenge for us,” he said. “Bump it up’ has taught me how to edit my work and change words that could be more advanced. There’s sentence structure, but the focus is mostly on the phrases, adjectives, verbs and nouns that you use.”

Peers’ Sienna Israel and Helena Tsoukleris agreed. “I really like using adjectives and so many more now come into my head,” Helena said.

“It gives me a motivation boost, and that makes you go to the next level,” Sienna said.

Mr Lemos said students were so used to communicating via text and picture messages that editing had become an unfamiliar process.

“The key is to give them a rationale and reason to do it,” he said. “‘Bump it up’ takes away the fear. Students are willing to take more risks with their writing because the first work they submit is just a draft and their final grade will come when they edit.”

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