How to Integrate Assessment Best Practices into Project-Based Learning

Building Blocks of PBL

Check out Building Blocks of PBL Video

Lesson Plan Check List for PBL

Jennifer Pieratt, author of Project-Based Learning: Assessment and Other Dirty Words, introduces deeper learning in the video The Building Blocks of Project-Based Learning. The Six Competencies are the building blocks of Project-Based Learning, and Pieratt uses it to give tips on how to integrate assessment best practices into your projects.

Deeper learning is an umbrella term for the skills and knowledge that students must possess to succeed in 21st century jobs and civic life. The deeper learning framework includes six competencies essential to prepare students to achieve at high levels. Six Competencies are:

  1. Master core academic content
  2. Think critically and solve complex problems
  3. Work collaboratively
  4. Communicate effectively
  5. Learn how to learn
  6. Develop academic mindsets

The foundation of deeper learning is mastery of core academic content, whether in traditional subjects such as mathematics or in interdisciplinary fields, which merge several key fields of study. Students are expected to be active participants in their education. Ideally, they are immersed in a challenging curriculum that requires them to acquire new knowledge, apply what they have learned, and build upon that to create new knowledge.

Start With the End in Mind

To master core academic content, students must develop and draw from a baseline understanding of knowledge in an academic discipline, and transfer knowledge to other situations. According to Pieratt (2018), a common best practice in teaching is to plan with the end in mind (known as Backward Design). Pieratt states “High-quality PBL is grounded in these same foundations:” (pg. 2)

  • Begin by deciding what the final product will be.
  • Ask what knowledge students will need to master.
  • Determine what skills students will need to develop to complete this final product.

For students to know and understand the content knowledge and skills, teachers must be clear on what content they will need to learn to complete the project. Also, you must identify what district or school performance assessments will need to be integrated into the project.

Build Your Rubric: Summative Assessment Tool

Once the content and skills have been identified, students must master the project for skills identified. This is the time to build your rubric. Pieratt recommends building your rubric based on expert tools, rather than coming up with your own from scratch. Pieratt’s favorite Open Education (assessment) Resources for 21st-century skills (which are embedded in PBL) are:

Pieratt recommends reviewing your rubric on these websites and identifying one row from two to three rubrics that highlight the nuanced, 21st-Century skills and content knowledge that students will develop in your project.

Building Rubric Rows

Pieratt (2018) suggests “Copy and paste the descriptors from the expert rubrics into your own document. At this point, you have 2-3 rows of your rubric already created. Next, you’ll visit your content standards, or perhaps your district assessment tools, and drop the language from these sources into the remaining rows of your rubric. Your summative assessment tool will end up being anywhere from 4-8 rows. To see an example, check out these PBL lessons done with Boeing, which all include rubrics in the teacher materials.” (pg. 2)

Engineering Design Process Video


Benchmarks are the digestible chunks that break down your project and allow students to provide you with deliverables they reflect on and formatively assess, using 1-2 rows from your rubric. Sample benchmarks for a Public Service Announcement are listed below.

Benchmark Image
Benchmark Example

Calendar It Out

Pieratt (2018) suggests “Once you’ve identified your benchmarks, you know the project milestones, which will allow you to develop a project calendar for planning logistics. But more importantly, it will allow you to cross-check that you are formatively assessing and providing formal feedback to students at multiple points throughout the project. This step is critical in high-quality PBL, because it serves as a “safety net” to ensure that students are mastering content before moving forward. For more on formative assessment, check out Tch’s Formative Assessment Deep Dive.” (pg. 4) (To access Teaching Channel’s Formative Assessment Deep Dive video you need to subscribe to their membership)

Pieratt (2018) says “This step also affords you the opportunity to re-teach if needed, and better differentiate teaching and learning throughout the project process. Assessing and receiving feedback multiple times in a project allows students to fully develop their content mastery and skills, therefore moving to the right columns on your rubric.” (pg. 4)


When you embrace the assessment best practices into Project-Based Learning, it truly allows students to have ownership over their learning. When we’re upfront with students about what we expect from them (through tools such as rubrics), learning doesn’t feel like a mystery.

How to Develop Students to Own How They are Learning

How They Are Learning Image
Develop How They Are Learning



Develop students to own how they are learning requires teachers to look at instruction from the students’ point of view. This is important to remember as you plan your unit of instructions.

What students need to do to learn the skills. True student ownership begins when the teacher looks at instruction from the students’ point of view.

Those strategies students will use to master the content skills determined in the curriculum, defined by Authors of Developing Student Ownership, as instruction. This means once the student understands what they are learning, how will they show mastery? and why they are learning it. This way students can determine the best way to learn, and it is done with the support of the teacher.

Fostering student ownership of learning tool from NIET Teaching and Learning Standards includes descriptions of how students demonstrate ownership, how teachers can support student ownership, key markers that signal increased ownership, and guiding questions to help teachers think about fostering student ownership.

Putting Student Ownership into Practice

Ownership in Practice Image
Develop Student Ownership in Practice

What does student ownership look like and sound like when a student owns their part in instruction? What is the difference between a student who is simply doing or understanding instruction and one who owns how they are learning?

Authors of the book Robert Crowe and Jane Kennedy (2018) show us the difference in the following:

“A student is doing when they can state how they need to complete the task in front of them.” (pg. 49)

“A student is understanding when they can explain what strategy they are engaged in.” (pg. 49)

“A student is owning how they are learning when they can articulate the strategy they are currently using to learn, how this strategy supports their learning, and how they will use this strategy in the future—during this class, in other classes, and when they are working on their own.” (pg. 49)

Crowe and Kennedy present an example of what ownership looks and sounds like on a continuum of doing-understanding-owning in the following diagram:

How they are Learning Image
How They Are Learning

A teacher can move a student toward ownership of their learning by strategically deciding when to offer the following three learning practices:

Strategic Learning PracticesEach student must answer the following questionsReflection: How well do you develop students to own how they are learning?
Instruction 1: Each and every student is supported by opportunities for meaningful engagement using structured student-to-student communication.

How does engaging in conversations with my peers push my learning?

How do I participate in these conversations?

What is my role as both a speaker and listener?
Student communications build toward mastery of the relevant standards and measurable and achievable learning outcomes.

Multiple and varied opportunities for student communication are provided.

Student communications are structured to provide rigorous and high-quality conversations.

Structured communications include reciprocal speaking and listening opportunities for each student.
Instruction 2: Each and every student is supported by opportunities for meaningful engagement using effective instructional strategies.
How does engaging in conversations with my peers push my learning?

How do I participate in these conversations?

What is my role as both a speaker and listener?
Instructional strategies build toward mastery of the relevant standards and measurable and achievable learning outcomes.

Instructional strategies require high levels of active participation.

Instructional strategies account for the different needs of your students.

Students must reflect on the purpose and value of the instructional strategy.
Instruction 3: Each and every student is supported by opportunities for meaningful engagement, in which instructional time is efficiently used.How much time do I have to learn this?

How can I use my time most efficiently?

How can these routines help me in the future?
All time is used to meaningfully engage students toward mastery of the relevant standards and measurable and achievable learning outcomes.

The pace keeps all students actively participating.

Routines are used to maximize instructional time and exclude nonproductive time.
Strategic Learning Practices Instruction

Strategic Learning Practices

In Strategic Learning Practices, authors lay out the following:

  • Clearly define each learning practice
  • Describe what implementation looks and sounds like in the classroom
  • Share teacher planning questions and offer examples of how students have been supported with these learning practices in various content areas and grade level
  • Explain how these practices directly lead to increased student ownership

Instruction 2 as an Example

Instruction Practice 2 Image
Strategice Learning Practice 2

Define Learning Practice 2

Opportunities: Chances for students to actively engage. The greater the quantity and quality of these opportunities, the higher the probability of student learning.

Meaningful engagement: It occurs when students participate in interactions that directly lead to increased understanding or mastery of the learning outcome.

Effective: It implies that students demonstrate the intended learning at the end of the time allotted.

Instructional Strategies: All students demonstrate the intended learning at the end of the time allotted.

The Practice in Action

This is what it looks like in Mr. Spicer”s 8th grade language arts class:

First page of the class agenda found in students’ Chromebook reads – Unit Standard: Analyze how a text – Narrative of the Life of Fredierick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass – Makes connections between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g. through comparisons, analogies, or categories).

Unit Outcome: Write an explanatory and informative essay that compares the life of a slave to his master.

Lesson Outcome: Analyze how chapters 5-7 make connections between Frederick Douglass and Mr. Auld, to cite specific textual evidence with Cornell notes. Read the text in your reciprocal teaching talking groups.

The students are sitting in groups as you walk around and ask “What are you learning?”

Deb: “We are learning how to analyze a text on Frederick Douglass and how it compares and contrasts.”

Zach: “The standard uses the phrase to make connections among and distinctions between individuals.”

Deb: “Oh yeah. Mr. Spicer tells us to use as much academic language as we can. But we need to read the text and then find accurate evidence we can use in our essays.”

You: “How will you read the text? Is that why you are sitting in groups?”

Zach: “Yes, we’re in our reciprocal teaching talk groups, and we will read the text together, discuss it, make sure we have all understood it, and then take notes.”

Deb: “We each have a role. Today I will be the questioner, Zach will be the clarifier, Jamal will be the summarizer, and Jay will be the predictor. As the questioner, I will read the paragraph out loud to the group. I will then ask them a couple of questions-one that is explicit and can be answered by words from the text, and another that is more inferential and can be answered by putting ideas together that might not be explicitly stated.”

Zach: “Then I will clarify any vocabulary or phrases that the group is struggling with. We will also find the vocabulary Mr. Spicer told us we need to know about slavery and abolition. After I clarify, Jamal will summarize what we read, and we will add to it if we need to. —“

The group will take notes using Cornell notes before reading the next section.

You: “How does this help you learn?”

Jamal: “Reciprocal teaching helps me learn, because it makes me read and reread the text by having to answer the questions, clarify vocabulary and ideas, summarize, and predict I am understanding at a deeper level. If I read this by myself, I might think I know it all without realizing what I missed.”

Students learn reciprocal teaching from Mr. Spicer. He taught each skill individually at the beginning of the year. Students spent a lot of time developing questions, clarifying vocabulary, summarizing, and using text clues to predict. At the end of the year, Mr. Spicer wants students to do as much as possible on their own, and  ask him questions only after students have asked one another first.

How did the students be able to answer the questions so articulately and with such confidence?

Mr. Spicer had this to say, “First off, I had to make sure they understand what we were learning —in both the unit and the lesson. Then I had to determine the best way to have them learn this — there are so many strategies to choose them. Reciprocal teaching is an instructional strategy that we have been using all year, so the students are very familiar with it. We have used it in a lot of different contexts and with a lot of support from me, but this is the first time I have asked them to work in talk groups where they are in control of everything — the roles, the chunking of the text, time management. To do this, I need to be very planned. I also need to be very deliberate about what we are learning and where we are headed—what we will complete at the end of the lesson and unit.”

You can see Mr. Spicer uses a reciprocal teaching strategy to support students analyzing text. He is very deliberate in his planning, what they are learning, and where they are going in the unit and lessons.

Implementing the Practice

Mr. Spicer uses questions to help plan how he would offer support to his students. He asks himself the following questions that help guide him to implement Strategic Learning Practice Instruction 2:

  • What skill will my students learn, and how will they demonstrate they have learned it?

Mr. Spicer observes, “We are at the end of the year, and my students still need a lot of practice reading informational texts. In social studies, my students are learning about the Civil War, so the narrative by Frederick Douglass fits in nicely. I selected the standard 8.RI.3: ‘Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g. through comparisons, analogies, or categories).’ This standard helped me determine the focus for the end-of-unit essay. After that, the curriculum side of planning this unit came fairly quickly.”

Next, Mr. Spicer had to determine the answers to the following questions:

  • How will I select an instructional strategy that will build toward mastery of the learning outcome?
  • How will I select an instructional strategy that is appropriate for my students?
  • How does the instructional strategy require high levels of active participation?

This is how Mr. Spicer answers the above questions:

“I realized that the unit and the final essay hinged on the students’ ability to comprehend a fairly complex text. Frederick Douglass wrote this narrative in 1845 using his particular vernacular. I knew there would be vocabulary and ideas that were new to my students. I also knew that they needed to grapple with the text and its concepts if they were to pull relevant evidence from it to use in their essays. And, as it was the end of the year, they need to practice working independently to get ready for high school.”

“That’s why my first decision was how they were to access the text. Of all the strategies I could choose from—close reading, teacher-led lectures, reading for homework driven by end-of-chapter quizzes, direct instruction, and so on—it became clear that reciprocal teaching would lead to mastery of both the unit and lesson objective. The thinking required to question, clarify, summarize, and predict about specific passages in a text really pushes students’ deeper understanding of the content. So, I knew that this was a strong strategy.”

“Next, I had to determine if it was appropriate for my students. The maturity of an eighth grader is different for each student. But I knew my students needed to begin working more independently, especially from me. Again, reciprocal teaching seemed to fit the bill. My students had been practicing each of the strategies for the entire year—I had them learning in groups since November—and they had been working on the social skills necessary to be effective as a learning team. For the majority of my class, they were up to the task. And the smaller groups I had them in, let me monitor and manage these teams that needed extra support.”

“I also knew that the instructional strategy I selected needed to require a high level of active participation for each student. The individual roles in reciprocal teaching ensured this, and the students would hold one another accountable to participate.”

Mr. Spicer wants his students to use these skills in various situations-especially in high school. He wants students to own these strategies, so they can increase their probability of learning. He then had to determine the following:

  • How will I share this information with my students?
  • How will I check that my students understand the goals of the instruction?

This is how he explains his answers to the above questions:

“We have focused on reading strategies from the beginning of the year. We discussed the value of having a variety of reading strategies at their disposal when reading anything-novels, poems, newspapers, biographies, the textbook, and so on. We discussed the need to learn and practice many different strategies to find out which ones work best for them. We discuss how the skills of reciprocal teaching-questioning, clarifying, summarizing, and predicting-form a nice schema to help categorize these strategies. And we discussed how the format of reciprocal teaching-working in small groups to make meaning-forms a nice process to help them understand how to learn from one another.”

“Reciprocal teaching forces the cognitive load onto my students, which allows me to spend my time supporting the instruction. The small groups help me check for understanding, clarify any concerns, support the process of reading, support the process of gathering evidence, and differentiate for individual teams, as needed.”

Mr. Spicer wants his students to understand the value of owning their learning. He prepares them for high-school and college. Therefore, he needs to think about the following question:

  • How will my students understand that reflecting on the instructional aspects of the learning supports their ownership of learning?

He says, “We have had many discussions about the value of making meaning from text and understanding how a reader goes about making meaning. For each new reading strategy, we discuss what it is, how to use it, how it can help a reader understand at a deeper level, and how to employ it in a variety of situations. My students are expected to use these strategies in other classes and report out how they have helped them.”

My Takeaway

Mr. Spicer realized that without this support of multiple opportunities to actively engage in the learning, interacting with instruction that is purposeful and leads to mastery and deeper understanding of the learning, and reflecting on the use of these strategies in the future, his students will struggle with owning their learning.

Authors Robert Crowe and Jane Kennedy use guided questions for implementing Strategic Learning Practice Instruction 2. It is helpful for teachers to plan their unit lessons meaningfully and engagingly using effective instructional strategies. This way students know what they are learning and why they are learning.

What does student ownership of instruction look like, and sound like in your classroom? Are your students doing, understanding, or owning?

Something for you to think about.

6 Truths Why Empower Student Learning So Important


Student Agency Image
Empower Student Learning

Making Shift From Engagement to Empowerment Video

6 Truths Why Empower Student Learning So Important came about when I read Spencer and Juliani use the Louis Braille story to focus on giving kids the knowledge and skills to pursue their passions, interests, and future.

Louis Braille as a young kid was trying to make some holes in the leather using a sharp-pointed tool called an awl. According to John Spencer and A.J Juliani, authors of Empower, while Louis was pressing it into a piece of leather, the awl slipped and caught Louis in the eye. He was rushed to be seen by surgeons, but the doctors could not save his eye, and they put a patch on it. Weeks later, Louis’s other eye became infected, and by the age of five he had lost all sight.

Louis’ parents did not treat him like a disabled, instead his father created various canes for Louis to travel around the village. Louis continued to learn, tinker and create despite the loss of sight.

Why empower student learning is so important? Lets find out.

6 Truths Empower Student Learning According to Spencer and Juliani

Truth # 1: Every child deserves to own their learning. Teachers can empower student ownership of lifelong learning.

Authors (2017) believe this is the reason we educate students for their benefit. Spencer and Juliani support the idea that “When we give students choice, allow for inquiry, and foster creativity, we see the amazing things they can do.” (pg 10) This only matters when students own their learning.

Technology, as Spencer and Juliani put it, is where students can learn, collaborate, and connect to anyone in the world. Authors (2017) note “As teachers, we have to embrace the notion that technology can open up a world of learning opportunities, and then give our students the chance to own those opportunities.” (pg 10)

Truth # 2: Every child in your class is someone else’s whole world. Empowering students transforms our social/human connections.

Every child in your class is someone else’s whole world hits home for Juliani, because he watches his daughter go to school everyday. He believes that empowering learning brings us closer through communication, collaboration, and sharing meaningful work that brings the learning to life. More than that, “it transforms our social/human connections with little moments that can make a kid’s day or make a parent proud.” (pg 10)

Truth #3: Stories will always shape us. They will always help us learn. Empower students to create and share their learning stories.

As I write more blog posts, I begin to believe that stories that authors (2017) write are “one of the best ways to teach and a favorite way of ours to learn.” (pg. 10)

Spencer and Juliani (2017) write that story telling transforms our world because technology has expanded our depth of story and allows us to share stories wider and farther than ever before. So, as teachers and students, we can use technology to transform our story telling and how we learn.

Spencer and Juliani (2017) write, “The true power of a story comes from two things: learning from the story and then sharing your story with an audience and with the world. Empowered learners know stories are the gateway to pursuing their passions and future.” (pg. 10)

Truth #4: The only thing you can prepare students for is an unpredictable world.

Authors strongly believe that as teachers, our job is to prepare our students for anything. Teachers are the guides, and our students are the heroes of the story.

Authors (2017) consider “Teachers can be guides who empower learners, because we can be free of always having to be the content experts (especially as content continually changes). Instead, we share with our students that we too are master learners. Knowing how to learn is a skill we can share with our students to help them learn anything.” (pg. 10)

Truth #5: Literacy is about learning. And learning is about unlearning and relearning.

Spencer and Juliani (2017) support “Empowered students are part of a learning environment where unlearning and relearning is the norm. This type of environment is where we can get new information and analyze it, apply it, and use it to create or evaluate. Empowered learners adopt a mindset that praises unlearning and relearning, and treats the process as a continuum.” (pg.10)

Truth #6: As teachers, we have a huge impact on our students’ lives. Empowering our students amplify that impact.

As teachers, we all know that we can make a huge impact on our students. One statement Spencer and Juliani write made me think about education today: “These six truths help us to stand firm against the fads and next “best thing” in education, while focusing on what works to make our learners’ experience both meaningful and relevant while they are in school.” I believe the emphasis is on what works to make our learners’ experience meaningful and relevant, while they are in school.

Take Away

I searched for information about students’ ownership of learning on Pinterest. I found the website. I perused some of his articles and am impressed by his passion on this subject. I am convinced that the goal of teaching is to empower student ownership of lifelong learning. To do this, we need to share the knowledge and skills of how to learn with our students. So, I started a series of blog posts on how to develop student ownership of learning. I provided the links below to how to develop student ownership of learning series so far:

What is the Look and Sound of Student Ownership?

How to Develop Student Ownership What They Are Learning


Spencer, J., & Juliani, A. (2017). Empower. Impress, LP.

3 Effective Ways to Help Students Achieve Criteria for Success

Criteria For Success Title

Moss and Brookhart, authors of Learning Target, give 2 classroom scenarios on sharing learning target:

Mrs. Thompson:

Today we will continue reading Julius Caesar, pages 462 to 472. Answer the questions in the study guide as you read. The first 30 questions focus on facts about Shakespeare’s prior life, and the next 30 outline facts about Julius Caesar. To answer questions 60 through 75, you must define the archaic terms from the play. Use your dictionaries for this. Remember, questions on tomorrow’s quiz will come directly from the study guide.

Mr. Labriola:

Today we are learning to evaluate the claims used to convince Marcus Brutus that Julius Caesar was an enemy of the state who deserved to die. As you read today’s passage with members of your learning group, identify all the claims made by the various conspirators. Then reread the passage to collect evidence to verify each claim. Remember, to warrant Caesar’s death, the claims must be serious and not trivial, and they must be supported by evidence that is reliable and substantiated. Look for evidence that is more than opinion or hearsay. Ask yourself whether the evidence is verifiable—is there a witness or some form of documentation to back up the claim? At the end of the lesson, each group will share three of the claims it investigated, evaluate the quality of the evidence it uncovered, and explain its reason for deciding whether or not each claim warranted Cesar’s death. Each of you has the rubric we will use to weigh the quality of the evidence we find in the play. Note that there are two important elements for evaluating the claims you find: the seriousness of the claim and the reliability of the evidence. Use the rubric as you read, work in your groups, and prepare to share your conclusions. Let’s examine the rubric elements now and use them to assess some samples of claims and evidence so we can be sure we understand exactly what the levels of quality on the rubric mean and how they apply.

Do you think students will understand the learning target in Mrs. Thompson’s class or Mr. Labriola’s class about Julius Caesar?

If you say Mr. Labriola’class, you are correct. But why? Let’s look at what success criteria is and the 3 ways to use it effectively to help students achieve success in the classroom.

Define Success Criteria–Big Three

The authors emphasize success criteria must be specific to the learning target, understandable, and visible. It is important to note success criteria answers an important question about the lesson from the student’s point of view: ‘How will I know when I hit my learning target?’

An analogy from the authors is to imagine success criteria as an actual target. The bull’s-eye, dead center, depicts mastery-what students will aim for and what success looks like when students hit their learning target. The target’s outer rings represent the typical level of understanding we expect to establish as students move closer toward mastery-proficient, basic, or minimal.

Success Criteria as Learning Target Rings
Success Criteria Define the Learning Target
  • A. Mastery of the learning target (bull’s eye)
    • Thorough understanding, expert proficiency, highly effective.
  • B. Proficiency (1st outer ring white circle)
    • Substantial understanding, basic proficiency, effective.
  • C. Basic (2nd outer ring black circle)
    • General understanding, basic proficiency, generally effective.
  • D. Minimal (3rd outer ring white circle)
    • Misunderstanding, serious misconception. Novice proficiency, minimally effective.
  • E. No Understanding (4th outer ring black circle)
    • No Proficiency, ineffective.

We know what success criteria means from authors analogy, but many educators make the mistake of assuming that they are sharing success criteria when they tell their students how many questions they should get right on an assignment or encourage them to shoot for certain scores or simply “do their best.” Success criteria are not ways to certify student understanding in terms of scores, grades, percentage or any other number labels.

Remember Ms. Thompson’s lesson on Julius Caesar, it does not answer the important question from students’ point of view “How Will I know when I hit my learning target?” Instead, students are looking at the questions and wondering:

  • What content is important for me to learn?
  • Am I supposed to understand the life of William Shakespeare?
  • How can I do my best on the study guide?
  • I wonder what facts about Julius Caesar are the most important for me to learn?
  • Will I be asked to define the archaic words to show that I know what an archaic word means?
  • How will I have to do that, and can I use my study guide as a reference?

I was guilty of this mistake when I started teaching and I feel for teachers who repeat this mistake.

Please remember the Big Three of Success Criteria!

The Big Three of Success Criteria must include:

  1. We craft the learning target by considering what growing understanding and competence will look like for students as they progress from little understanding toward a more sophisticated grasp of the content
  2. Performance of understanding-consider learning intention-specific content plus the potential learning trajectory for the lesson- and the learning target
  3. Success criteria organize and frame from the students’ point of view, such as ‘I-Can’ statements

Sharing the Learning Target and Success Criteria Verbally

According to Moss and Brookhart, sharing learning target means students are engaged in a performance of understanding using look forms to assess the quality of their learning, and receive timely suggestions and strategies that feed their learning forward while they are learning.


Sharing Learning Targets = Means

 Self-regulated assessment capable learners = Desired End

The best way to share learning target and success criteria for today’s lesson is through a convincing performance of understanding, a learning experience, and resulting student performance that embody the learning target and provide compelling evidence of student learning.

Performance of Understanding:

Performance of understanding means to develop both understanding of the concept and produces evidence that helps students and teachers gauge where that level of understanding resides relation to the learning target and success criteria, Moss and Brookhart noted in the Learning Target book.

When you think of performance of understanding, think of it as a carefully designed learning experience that happens during the formative learning cycle in today’s lesson.

Purpose of Performance of Understanding:

  • Embody the learning target
  • Promote mastery of essential content
  • Develop students proficiency in specific reasoning skills
  • Provide compelling evidence of student learning, and
  • Prepare students for the elevated degree of challenge that will face them in tomorrow’s lesson
Tailoring Criteria for Success to Performance of Understanding
If the performance of understanding involves ….ExamplesThen useful criteria for success might be ….
Grouping a new concept of term.*Science: weather front, DNA, ecosystem
*Social Studies: state capitals, government, imperialism, urbanization
*Language Arts: Parts of speech, nonfiction, root word.
*Mathematics: integer, volume, estimation, prediction.
Organized as “I can” statements:
*I can explain [concept or term] in my own words.
*I can give examples of what [concept or term] is and examples of what [concept or term] is not.
*I can use [concept or term] to analyze a situation [or text, or data] or to solve a problem.
Demonstrating a discrete skill-a belief, well defined action that has a clear beginning and end.*Graphing a quadratic equation.
*Forming a contraction.
*Changing a sentence from passive to active voice.
*Measuring the circumference of a circle.
Organized as an “I can” statements checklist of important elements, steps, or rules of the skill:
I can change a passive sentence into an active sentence by
*Turning the object of the passive into the “star” or the subject of the active sentence.
*Removing the “to be” form, “en” or “ed” from the passive verb to make it an active verb.
*Turning the subject of the passive sentence into a direct object of the active sentence,
Creating a complex product or demonstrating a complex process.*Writing a descriptive paragraph.
*Participating in a debate.
*Creating a power point.
*Outlining a book chapter.
*Give an informative speech.
Organized as a rubric:
I can [write a piece of fan fiction, plant a terrarium] according to the descriptions in the rubric.
Embodied in examples of good work:
I can [write a descriptive paragraph, create a power-point presentation] that is as good as this one because —
Demonstrated through expert modeling of the process:
I can [give an informative speech, call 911] just as well as [model of process] did because —
Using critical, creative, or self regulartory reasoning processes and thinking skills to maximize the quality of a performance or product.*Classifying the eight planets in an original way.
*Describing the similarities and differences between prose and poetry.
*Writing an essay that argues for wind power over fossil fuels.
Organized as guiding questions for the reasoning process:
I can use my best thinking to classify the planets by asking myself these questions:
*Can I identify the things I am going to classify?
*Can I name something important that these things in this group have in common?
Is there anything that does not belong in this group? Can I make another category for some of the things that do not belong?
Examples of Performance of Understanding

Strategies that help students achieve criteria for success

The Four-Step Framework

Four step Framework reminder

Four-Step Framework employs a set of “starter prompts” that unpack the learning target, performance of understanding, and success criteria. It has successive steps of the framework outline what students will learn during today’s lesson, explain what they will do to learn it, describe what they will look for to know they are doing fine work, and obtain the target relevant by connecting it to the potential learning trajectory or real-world applications.

The Four Step Framework
The Learning target for today’s lesson: ________________________________________________________________________
Step 1: Explain the learning target in student friendly terms.We are learning to…
Step 2: Describe the performance of understanding.We show we can do this by…
Step 3: Describe the Student look for.To know how well we are learning this, we will look for…
Step 4: Make it relevant.It is important for us to learn this because…
The Four Step Framework template

Four Step Framework Example:

3rd Grade Language Arts Lesson

Learning Target: “Students will learn how to sequence the four major events of a story.”

Step 1. Explain the learning target in student-friendly terms: We are learning to put the four most important events of a story we read into the exact order they happened in the story to answer the question “What happened first, second, third, and last.”

Step 2. Describe the performance of understanding: We will show that we can do this by placing pictures of the four important events from the story in the exact order we remember them happening.

Step 3. Describe the student look for: To know how well we are learning this, we will look for the match between the order of our pictures and the sequence of events to the story as we reread it.

Step 4. Make it Relevant: It is important for us to put what happens in a story in the correct order because it helps us understand and remember stories and books we read. It will help us in our next lesson when we learn how to write our own stories. Knowing and remembering the order of important events also helps us learn science, history, math, and other subjects in school. It is a skill we will use for the rest of our lives, no matter what we do when we grow up. Doctors, detectives, teachers, mechanics, musicians, chefs, and many others must know and follow the exact order of events.

The I-Can Framework

This framework pairs a description of the learning target with an “I-Can” statement that describes the performance of understanding for today’s lesson and translates the criteria for success into look-for that students can understand and use.

The I can Framework
Level and TopicDescribe the Learning TargetUse “I-Can” Statements to share the Performance of Understanding and Student Look-fors.
I Can Framework Template

I-Can Framework Example:

Level and Topic

Elementary School: Proper Nouns

Step 1. Use the first starter prompt to describe the learning target: We are learning to find proper nouns in a story.

Step 2. Use the second starter prompt to alert students to performance of understanding as an I-Can statement: You will know you can do this when you can say: I can read a story and circle all the proper nouns I find.

Using Rubrics to Share Connected Learning Targets and Success Criteria

Using Rubrics to Share Learning Targets and Criteria for Success
StrategyHow to use the Strategy
I Can … Now I can Self-Assessment1. Give the rubric to students.
2. Partway through the lesson or task, ask students to mark the level of the rubric that shows their present level of performance-their “I can”.
3. Ask students to list a strategy for an area where they should improve or revise their work.
4. At the end of the lesson or task, ask students to mark the rubric with a different color to show how their strategies helped improve their work-“Now I Can.”
Teacher-Student Assess and Compare1. Give the rubric to students.
2. students use a yellow highlighter to mark the levels in the rubric that bext describe how they assess their performance.
3. The teacher assesses each student’s performance using the student’s rubric and a blue highlighter.
4. The places where “yellow and blue make green” show agreement on the student’s application of the criteria for success.
5. Areas that remain blue are places where the teacher can help the student better understand the criteria.
Student-Made Rubric1. Give students a blank table or template for a rubric.
2. As a whole class or in small groups, ask students what constitutes good work for the lesson (good writing, good eye contact, good participation, etc.,) Students will use this list as the elements of their rubric.
3. Ask students to create descriptions of strong and weak work for each element to create a simple rubric.
Ready, Steady, Pair Share1. Give the rubric to students before a performance of understanding.
2. Students sit with a partner and take turns explaining the elements in the rubric.
3. Students begin the performance of understanding.
4. Halfway through the performance, students return to their pairs and explain how what they are doing meets the criteria for success in the rubric.
5. Students repeat step 3 at the end of the performance of understanding.
Strategic Goal Setting1. Give the rubric to students before a performance of understanding.
2. student plan and list strategies for a successful performance, one strategy for each element in the rubric.
“Traffic Light” Student Self Assessment1. Give students a copy of the rubric.
2. Students work in pairs to discuss their understanding of the rubric.
3. Student engage in their performance of understanding.
4. At the midpoint of the performance, students stop and “traffic light” where they are using the rubric and red, green, and yellow dots to mark where they think their work is now:
-Green-solid understanding-I am ready to go.
-Yellow- partial understanding-I need to slow down and think about this carefully.
-Red-I need help and can’t do this on my own.
Examples of Using Rubric to Share Learning Target and Criteria for Success.

I have attached 2 pdfs Action Tool E is Student Self-Assessment and Intentional Learning Guide and Action Too C is Learning Target Lesson Planning Process Guide includes Criteria for Succes from this post.

Action Tool E

Action Tool C