Peel back curtain, Performance expectations are Clear
Teachers can use both rubrics, modeling, and exemplars to help students become familiar with specific performance expectations. It helps for students to be able to see what proficiency looks like! Research shows that clear performance rubrics improve student achievement by helping focus student learning!
Here is an example of a student-friendly rubric that students will be able to celebrate skills they already have, while identifying and recording their next steps according to their personal performance level. This rubric is motivational since it adds an opportunity for student choice. After their next step is identified, students have the choice of three different strategies (Next steps) to help them practice the skill.
Teachers often forget that explicit and intentional modeling can serve as an effective way to help students understand exactly what it is they need to do. For example, I am currently coaching students on personal narratives. My first lesson involved the students and I making an anchor chart that explains/ breaks down what a personal narrative is. We close the lesson with a quick check for understanding- Turn & talk. "What do you know about personal narratives?" The second lesson is built on explicit modeling. I model my thinking process for planning and using my planning to begin writing. To increase student engagement, I "turn into a 2nd grader" by using a tiny voice, working on my knees, and stretching out unknown words to help with spelling as I write.
During my 2nd year of teaching, I found the magic in using actual student work as exemplars! When students are able see and discuss their classmates work, the task almost instantly becomes more attainable. I am always sure to highlight next steps even for the highest performance levels so that students understand the learning process is on-going. Every student has next steps! Another way to use exemplars is by taking pictures! Duing station work, I begin at the beginning of the year taking pictures students who are showing what hard working "looks like" in each station. The pictures directly relate to the task since it is pictures of their current classmates working hard in their current classroom!
Another example of making expectations clear is having a visual tracker in the classroom. This is a great way for students to not only see their goals, but gives them the opportunity to celebrate small benchmarks along the way. Visual trackers also encourage a growth mindset since students know that each of their classmates is working towards a goal no matter their performance level!
Here are a few examples of visual trackers for progress monitoring:
Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinanch, E., Suporitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making (NCEE 2009-4067). Retrieved from
National Center for Education Evaluation and regional Assisstance Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education website: