Students in Crystal Davis’ fifth grade class at Orchard Ridge Elementary School can tell you the exact procedures for to lining up, sharpening a pencil or asking to get a drink of water. Across the building in Kayla Suing’s third grade class, her students have a firm grasp on their own routines, like properly carrying an iPad or closing a desk.


MMSD teachers Crystal Davis and Kayla Suing

Teachers Crystal Davis and Kayla Suing


That’s because, in the beginning of the school year, Davis and Suing used a method to teach behavior expectations called Interactive Modeling, in which students learn why the behavior is important and then practice it and discuss it as a class.


Interactive Modeling is a straightforward, quickly paced, seven-step process that's effective for teaching children any academic or social skill, routine or procedure that you want them to do in a specific way. With Interactive Modeling, students:
  • Learn exactly why the skill, routine or procedure is important to their learning and the respectful, smooth functioning of the classroom.
  • Are asked what they noticed about the teacher's modeling (rather than told by their teacher what to notice).
  • See a few classmates additionally model the routine or procedure after the teacher's initial modeling.
  • Practice the routine or procedure right away.
  • Receive immediate feedback and coaching from their teacher while they practice.
– Responsive Classroom (

Interactive Modeling is a key component of Responsive Classroom, an approach to teaching that involves proactively showing children behavior expectations, believing that they can and will learn to do things the right way, given the tools and leadership.


Used throughout the district in elementary schools, Responsive Classroom is associated with greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement and improved school climate.


“We pick the routines we want to go through a full interactive modeling process, Suing explains, focusing especially on routines new to the grade level, such as locker or desk etiquette. Suing’s third grade students, using classroom iPads for the first time, were taught the proper way to retrieve and return the tablets from the cart.


"We discuss the expectation, and then have a few kids try it. I’ll ask what they noticed about the way the students did it. Another group of kids will practice it again, and we’ll discuss what students noticed again. Finally, we’ll all practice it together.”


Next time we’ll hear how Crystal Davis and her fifth grade class rely on shared expectations and signals to keep class running smoothly.