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Support students’ confidence through instruction that includes clear expectations; challenging work that is calibrated to the knowledge, skills, and abilities of students; and informational and encouraging feedback

Confidence Activities


In the following section, we provide multiple examples, options, and variations of activities and instructional strategies that are aligned with the Confidence MDP in order to be as comprehensive and specific as possible. However, this does not mean that teachers must use all of these strategies to enact the Confidence MDP, nor that these strategies are the only way to do so. We encourage teachers to use their professional discretion to select what will work best for them and their classrooms, and to modify and innovate on these strategies.

Because the five MDPs are synergistic, some activities found in this MDP overlap or align strongly with activities found in other MDP sections. This alignment is conveyed through color-coded dots in the activity-specific page (“Learn More”).

Post and consistently refer to lesson and unit objectives, aims, driving questions, phenomena, problem, and/or learning targets
Create a rotating role for students to read aloud the objectives. This kind of routine helps to ensure that posted objectives get vocalized consistently
Use an exit ticket to ask students to reflect on new knowledge/skills acquired related to the posted expectations/objectives/phenomena/driving question, and identify the level of personal challenge and personal interest
Post a daily agenda with the major sections of the lesson and anticipated time for each section
Alert students when work time is nearing its end. Check in to see if students need more time, and adjust as needed
Assign students to tasks to help facilitate transitions
Use recent exit tickets or other assessment data to collect information about students’ current skill levels. Use this information to inform subsequent activities and whether one level or multiple levels of challenge are needed
Provide several resources on the same topic at different levels and distribute to students according to reading level or provide students the opportunity to self-select
  • For example, as students are learning to write explanations, the class may be at various skill levels. Offer the following resources to students:
    • a skeleton paragraph with blanks in important places for students to fill in;
    • An outline with sentence starters;
    • an outline;
    • write the explanation without these supports
“Chunk” work on larger tasks/projects to make the work more manageable for students
Use think-alouds to model successful thought processes for new and/or challenging tasks
Create tools to support common tasks and make them consistently available to students. This can help make challenging tasks more accessible
Provide options for level of challenge so students can select the level that suits them. For example, allow students to decide whether or not they need a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning graphic organizer later in the school year
A Driving Question Board with dedicated space for answered questions shows students that they can successfully ask and answer questions
A KWL graphic organizer provides a structure to display students’ prior knowledge in the “Know” column and track what new knowledge/skills they have developed in the “Learned” column
Have students record “I can…” statements about skills they are learning. Periodically revisit these and add new statements throughout the year to help students feel confident as they see their skill set growing
Use individual and private progress charts to track students’ key skills and competencies over time so that students can see their growth. These charts can be used in individual conferences with students, to help students set personally challenging but attainable goals, and to help teachers create work that is appropriately challenging for the student
Start each lesson with a “Do Now,” warm up, or bellwork that asks questions to activate prior knowledge or prepare students for the lesson in a low-stakes way. This provides students with an early experience of success in the lesson
Use appropriate wait time to ensure that all students have a chance to engage in the question/task and potentially contribute an answer
“Warm” call: When circulating among students working individually or in groups, provide informational feedback to students and tell them you’ll ask them to share out when the whole class reconvenes
Think-pair-shares interspersed during whole-class instruction can help students feel more confident in publicly offering an answer or suggestion
In general, pair and group work can reduce the perceived challenge of a task for students. Assigning or allowing for student roles can help all students feel confident in their potential to contribute to the group
Have students share strategies that were successful for them when working on a task. If done in writing, keep some of these to share with next year’s students
Do a gallery walk at the midway point of a project so that students can see alternative approaches to the project by their classmates and decide on any adjustments they want to make for the remainder of the project timeline
Have students post work on the board or display it with a document camera and explain what they did and their reasoning behind it
Use think alouds to model how students might think through an upcoming task
Review and post the supports available to students while they work. Refer to the posted list when students are experiencing difficulty to help them find a strategy to try next
Circulate in the classroom to watch and listen to what students do and say. Assist by pointing to resources and strategies students can use and asking probing questions to move students toward success. Provide informational feedback highlighting successful strategy use
Encourage students with a focus on your belief in them, especially because of their effort and strategy use
Review the Confidence Talk Moves section. Select a few to try out during a lesson
Model for students how to use a rubric to guide their work to completion of an assignment. At the outset they can use a rubric to understand the expectations for an assignment. During work they can use the rubric to self-assess their progress. When the teacher has assessed their work they can use the rubric to interpret feedback and then to improve their work based on the feedback they received
  • Note: Rubrics should be primarily focused on student demonstration of 3-dimensional learning
Grade a draft of a project with a rubric and allow students to respond to the feedback for the final version and update the grade
Use language from the rubric or competencies to help provide students with informational feedback as they work
Use a standards- or competency-based grading system