Model Answer, Model Essay, Sample Assignment

UDL 5.2 UDL 6.2

Exemplars are models of completed assignments that provide students with a concrete representation of what the project requires. Teachers can create their own exemplars or feature student work. Exemplars can be used to model the desired format and organization of a project, show the end result of a long-term assignment, and as a source of inspiration for students in the beginning stages of an activity. Teachers may also provide "non-examples", or pieces that did not meet project requirements, to coach the revision process and demonstrate how to follow a rubric or project checklist.

Implementation Tips

Student-created Exemplars
Selecting exemplars from the work of current students can serve as a meaningful, academic-oriented form of praise. After an assignment has been returned to students, use a mini-lesson to explain how certain student(s)' work met the standards. It is important to frame this as a celebration that every student can achieve, rather than as a comparison between "good" and "bad" work. This is particularly effective when you offer students an immediate chance to revise their work based on what was explained about the exemplar. Students who have already met the standards of the initial assignment can pursue a next step or extension activity.
Digital Portfolios
Have students create digital portfolios of their work by uploading final projects to online blogs or a class drive or website. This creates an archive of potential exemplars and reduces the amount of physical papers and posters accrued each year. Having students create online portfolios of their work also reduces the possibility of work getting lost and provides an instant showpiece for conferences and open houses.


Use exemplars to model expectations about how students should show their work and explain their problem-solving processes. As you introduce exemplars, post them on classroom walls so they may serve as reference materials throughout the year.
Create a model assignment as you coach students through steps of the writing process. Developing the exemplar can be the focus of direct instruction. Chunk out the writing process, provide think alouds, and model writers' habits such as re-reading, revising, and revisiting project expectations or source texts. It can be helpful to write about different content than students to avoid direct copying of the model assignment. Give students an opportunity to work on their own writing after modeling each chunk, so they are not left to develop a whole writing assignment from scratch after the modeling is complete.
Early in the year, share a sample lab report (or lab report component, e.g., procedure) with students. Have them read it thoroughly and make observations about what the report includes, how it's formatted, and the sort of language used. Use this inquiry to facilitate students' articulation of the essential features of a lab write-up. Coach them to discover the purpose of each component and practice writing their own. Dissecting and analyzing an exemplar can support student understanding and buy-in, and break down larger assignments to make them more accessible.

Related Strategies