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Linking a working wall to a learning journey

Working walls and learning journeys have their own distinct features, but can be combined successfully to provide a good way for your class to be actively involved in their learning. Here are a few thoughts on making the most of each type of maths display area and how to link them together.

It doesn’t need to be a left to right display of a journey from objectives to outcomes, although that is the most usual format. I have seen examples with the journey moving outwards from a central starting point, like an explosion, or as a rocket launching upwards or even as a spiral – be as creative as you fancy for the journey. It should also include a desk/table with books, models and resources for children to pick up and look through to support the learning.

I think that a learning journey needs to have four main components to show the journey over a 2-week (or longer) unit of work

working wall
• specific objectives to show the focus of the unit of work – child-friendly and differentiated if necessary. If the unit has 5 or more objectives try to focus on a few key ones if possible, sharing these with the children to help make their self-assessment more manageable;

• a starting point, such as a problem, question or investigation linked to the objectives. Take an open task from your planning and display it creatively – then use it as one of the lessons towards the end of the unit;

• steps along the way as sign-posts, giving tips and support and identifying the skills and procedures to help make sense of the maths. This is where models, images and vocabulary fit in nicely, showing the possible stages along the journey. An understanding of the small progression steps of each maths topic is important as these can also be added to the journey;

• success criteria – the expected outcomes to show what you want the children to be able to do by the end of the unit – obviously vital to support self-assessment and your own assessments.

So what about the components of a working wall?

Above is an example of a working wall from a school I visited last term.

This is a display of ‘work in progress’ and an opportunity for your children to show their thinking and their approaches to understanding the maths.

From a practical point of view, it needs to be at a height that children can read and add their own ideas to the display, and structured so that it is not just a mess of pinned up sheets randomly spread over the board.

To help make this more structured and purposeful, why not have it running alongside the learning journey so that they are directly linked? Any time a child wants to show a skill they have learnt, or a procedure they’re trying to master or some mathematical thinking that has helped move on their understanding, they can add it to the working wall. They then use wool or ribbon to show where this links to the learning journey, whether it is to the success criteria statements or to one of the signposts.

The different approaches used to solve the ‘starting point’ problem can also be built up here. This then becomes a rich resource for discussion and for children to use to help assess their learning.
One tip though – get the balance right between your work (labels, laminated posters, teaching points…) and children’s work (text, photos, drawings…) so it is easy for children to make sense of the ‘learning wall’ and use it as an active part of their learning.

Related articles

Learning journey - make it a poster
A nice way for children to show the progress they are making in their own personal learning journey posters

How one teacher linked a working wall to a learning journey

This working wall highlighted appropriate vocabulary, whereas perhaps the next one could look at pictorial representation of the particular maths area.
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