Header image
A Model for Urban Student Engagement and Achievement



Making C.R.E.A.T.E work for you

I hope this website on the C.R.E.A.T.E. model has been a valuable tool, and that you will continue to utilize it as a resource for helping your students.  You may discover that you already use many of the C.R.E.A.T.E. strategies in your class or that you can improve on existing practices after looking at the evaluation checklist.  You may also realize that you can implement certain new strategies put forth in this model.  Furthermore, the C.R.E.A.T.E. model may inspire you to think of new approaches that have not yet been discussed but that help students learn.  Remember, the most important purpose for using this model will always be to help you remain innovative and find out what works best for YOUR STUDENTS.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the questions people have often asked me when I present the C.R.E.A.T.E. model.  Although I can’t answer every question and have a lot to learn myself, these are my honest responses to those frequently asked questions.

Q: How do you create lessons before a class that are culturally responsive and that have the exit price?

A: I spend at least 40-45 min daily planning a lesson plan for the subject I teach the following day.  I plan an objective based on where my students are in terms of mastering the essential concepts that I would have already mapped out in a timeline. The objective would be simple and something that I could assess for mastery on an exit price. I put myself in the shoes of the students, especially the target population, and ask myself, “What will it take for those students to understand the objective during my lecture?”  Moreover, I think about what it would take for that student to be ready to tackle and master the exit price that I will give.  The lecture that I plan will be interactive and involve the target population teaching back the concept to me. 

While the delivery of instruction is important, I spend most of my 45 min planning time on making the independent exit price which assesses if students learn the essential concept that I will teach.  The exit price that I make will have usually 20 questions on the new material that I will teach.  There will be at least 10 to 15 more questions that revolve around older essential concepts. Those last 10 questions will include the most recent concepts that students need to know but may need extra practice.  I target the weak areas and concepts students may need extra practice on by including them in the exit price.

Q: How do you deal with the kids who don’t buy in or don’t want to do the exit price? 

A: These are the steps I would try in order to engage all kids.  Most of the time it works and I can engage almost all of them. 

i)        Build a relationship with the most challenging students on an individual basis.  It would be outside of classroom time, during lunch, during passing
period, after school, or over the phone.  I will do whatever it takes to build a connection of trust with the students.  I take personal responsibility for my
students succeeding.

ii)       Make sure the student really understands the concept.  Also, I make sure the objective is simple and that it builds on what the students already know.  If the objective is too big that could cause the student to get lost.  If the student doesn’t understand the concept taught, then he or she might act out in
frustration and give up.  The student should feel that the content is easy and feel comfortable.  That is my responsibility as a teacher to make sure that I
deliver the material in a way that is easy to understand for the student.  I would ensure guided mastery through the interactive teach back and make sure that the challenging students teach back the concepts after I teach it to them. 

iii)     I make an extra effort to reward these kids with points to their grade or occasional treats and publicly recognize them.  If I have explained the
material so that it seems “easy” to the target population, made them teach back the concept during lecture and even rewarded the challenging students, I usually can engage all of them and they will feel confident to tackle the exit price.

iv)      Make the students accountable for mastering the exit price, using incentives and non-idle consequences.  The incentive to show mastery on the exit price is that they will receive a grade on it during class.  Most students do care about their grade especially if they see an immediate grade for something they turn in.  Also, if the exit price is easy and worth 50 pts, the students will do it because it is an easy A.  The consequence for not showing
mastery is that I will give them a poor grade.  They will receive an F for the day and lose 50 points.  Moreover, I will call their coach, parent, and whoever I need to inform them about the failing grade that student received.  I will find a way to get that student to come after school to finish the exit
price.  Therefore, I will bother the student so much that he or she won’t want to fail that exit price, especially since it is an easy 50 points assuming I had engaged the student during the lecture.

Therefore, I will try to develop a positive relationship, explain the material in a student centered way, use interactive teach-back to engage and ensure guided mastery for the target population, and use incentives and non-idle consequences to enforce accountability for the exit price.  If I am
still not able to get the most challenging students to buy in, I then think about damage control.  I mean, I will get the attendance and behavior specialist or counselor and have them talk to the student.  I won’t allow a few students to remain in class and hurt the other students who do buy in and try hard.  Although it happens rarely, there are a few times when I do
have to let those few challenging students figure things out for themselves and I will stop chasing them until that epiphany happens because I need to
focus on the other 28 kids. No matter what I do, I can’t win with every kid but I can win with most kids.

Q: How do you teach the essentials, especially if there is already a pacing guide that the district tells you to use?

A: These are the steps I use to create a timeline based on essential concepts.

i)        I look at blueprints from the California Department of Education (CDE) for the
subject that I teach. I look at Released Questions from the California Standardized Tests (CST).  Then I take note of the most essential concepts that
my students should master before they have to take the CST exam.  I try to keep it under 10 major concepts that the students can master that year.  I
make note of where in the textbook those essential concepts are emphasized.

ii)       Make a rough timeline based on the essential concepts.  I leave at least 1 month in the timeline to review for the state exam and show lots and lots of
examples of the type of questions the students might encounter.  During the course of the year, I might modify the timeline based on what essential
concepts the students have mastered.

iii)      If the principal or district questions me about why I have my own time line, I will tell them that I am using the existing district pacing guide.  I will
tell them that I use the existing pacing guide but that I am simply emphasizing the essential concepts listed in the blueprints because I want the students to master the essential concepts.  But I would not act like I am completely discarding the district pacing guide. I am simply catering to my students’ needs and teaching based on their mastery of essential concepts.  I would also show the research that shows how the highest performing urban schools in the country emphasize mastery of essential concepts over page by page coverage.

Q: How do you grade for mastery during class when there are 30 kids in one class?

A: These are the tactics I use to grade for mastery in class, during class:

i)        Circulating the room.  I circulate to all students and glance at the problems assessing that day’s concept.  But I don’t look at every problem for every student.  I spend more time looking at the papers of those students who I know might be struggling (target population). 

ii)       I also use superstar tutors who I trust will do a good job.  They also go around and check papers and let me know how certain students are doing. 
I usually spend more of my time with the target population or kids who I know may struggle.

iii)      I collect all exit price papers at the end of the period so that my students know that I am serious about them getting the exit price papers done.  If I
have not been able to glance at each paper, I will skim through them during lunch or let my T.A. look at them.  But I usually grade all papers during class by efficiently circulating and looking at a few key problems and focusing on the most struggling students.  I put the grade into the grade book as I walk around the classroom observing the exit price assignment.


Adelman, C. (1999). Answers in the tool box: Academic intensity, attendance patterns, and bachelor’s degree attainment. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

Benson, B. (1997). Scaffolding (Coming to Terms). English Journal, 86(7), 126-127.

Brophy, J., & Good, T. (1986). Teacher behavior and student achievement. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching, 3rd ed. (pp. 328-375). . New York: Macmillan.

California Dropout Research Project. (2008, February). Solving California’s dropout crisis. A Policy Committee Report. University of California at Santa Barbara: Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. Retrieved November 4, 2008, fromhttp://lmri.ucsb.edu/dropouts/pubs.htm

Cobb, C. Jr., and Moses, R. (2001). Radical Equations: Math literacy and civil rights. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Covington, M. V., & Omelich, C. L. (1984). Task-oriented versus competitive learning structures: Motivational and performance consequences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(6), 1038–1050.

Delpit, Lisa. (1995). Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. NY: New Press.

Dewey, John (1899). The school and society. In: middle works of John Dewey. Carbondale, IL, Southern Illinois University Press, 1976. vol. 1, p. 1-109.

Education Trust-West. (2008) Achievement in California 2008: Fading Gains, Growing Gaps. Retrieved October 30, 2008 from http://www2.edtrust.org/edtrust/etw

Encyclopedia of Educational Research. 1992. Sixth Edition. Marvin C. Alkin, editor. New York: Macmillan.

Helfand, Duke. (2007, January 26). Formula for Failure in L.A. Schools. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2007, from http://www.latimes.com/news/education/lamedrop out30jan30,0,405044,full. story?coll=la-news-learning

Loveless, Tom (2008, September). The Misplaced math student: Lost in eighth-grade algebra. Brown Center on Education Policy at The Brookings Institution. Retrieved November 2, 2008, from http://www.brookings. edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2008/0922_education_loveless/0922_education_loveless.pdf

Marzano, R., Pickering, D. and Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works – Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2003 September). Postsecondary attainment attendance, curriculum, and performance: Selected results from the NELS:88/2000

National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) (2008) What America Should Learn from High-Per forming Urban Schools (PowerPoint Slides). Retrieved from http://www.ncust.org/

Noguera, P. (2003). City schools and the American dream: Reclaiming the promise of public education. New York: Teachers College Press.

Noguera, P.A. (2009, May 11). Building a Safety Net for At-risk Youth: What Does it Take to Leave No Child Behind? Power Point presentation conducted by keynote speaker at the Sierra Health Foundation and the UC Davis School of Education Symposium, Sacramento, California.

Perry, T. (Fall 2003). “Reflections of an African American on the Small Schools Movement.” Voices in Urban Education. Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

Rosenthal, Robert & Jacobson, Lenore Pygmalion in the classroom (1992). Expanded edition. New York: Irvington

Sanders, W. L., & Horn, S. P. (1994). The Tennessee value-added assessment system (TVAAS): mixed-model methodology in educational assessment. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 8(3), 299-311.

Sanders, W. & Rivers, J. (1996). The Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on Future Student Academic Achievement. University of Tennessee Value-added Research and Assessment Center.

Tauber, Robert T. 1998. Good or bad, what teachers expect from students they generally get! ERIC document ED 426 985.

Tiberius and Tipping, "Principles of Effective Teaching and Learning," for Which There Is Substantial Empirical Support. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1990.

Tucker, Jill (2008, August 25). Algebra - it's everywhere. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/08/25/MNJU126FNT.DTL


Engaging Students
      <<Previous Home Next>>