Week 7 – Lens into the Classroom

This week’s “Lens into the Classroom” session features Jennifer Pieratt Ph.D., a current School Development Coach for the New Tech Network of schools. She works with schools in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas at various stages of development including start up, school turnaround and district extension. A former High School humanities teacher at High Tech High North County, Jenny received her PhD in education-her research focused on teacher-student relationships in PBL.

New Tech Network (NTN) works nationwide with schools, districts and communities to develop innovative public schools. They provide services and support that enable schools to fundamentally rethink teaching and learning. Their goal is to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow. They have 130 + schools and focus on teaching that engages, technology that enables, and school culture that promotes trust, respect, and responsibility.

NTN focus on five school-wide learning outcomes, with corresponding assessments created by SCALE at Stanford, and inspired by Envision. They are (see example rubrics below):

  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge and Thinking
  • Agency

Jenny’s question is:

How can I leverage the NTN collaboration rubric to help promote deeper learning in teacher’s classrooms?

Here are a few of NTN’s collaboration rubrics:

Here is a sampling of some other rubrics NTN that uses:

Here are slides we are using in this session:

Panel on assessing deeper learning

We had a great panel discussion about assessment and deeper learning today. The archive is below, and here are links to some of the resources that were mentioned:

Archive of panel:

Wk 7 email – Assessing deeper learning

(This is a duplicate of the March 2 email sent to registered participants.)

Dear DLMOOC participants:,

It’s week 7 of DLMOOC, and we’re talking about assessing deeper learning. A list of the activity options for this week is available here.

We also want to let you know that High Tech High is offering a full fellowship in School Leadership! This includes a full tuition fellowship, a living stipend, a year-long immersion at a HTH school and of course, earning your M.Ed. in School Leadership in sunny San Diego, CA. Priority Deadline March 10. Questions can sent to: kwilson@hightechhigh.org. More information is available here.


Ben, Rob, Laura, Ryan, Karen, and the whole DLMOOC team


Put it into Practice – Assessing deeper learning

This week’s “Put It Into Practice” can be done on your own, but it is also a great collaborative activity, especially for content group meetings. The goal is to take existing assessment questions and rewrite them at a higher level of thinking using Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy and/or Arthur Costa’s Levels of Questioning. You can also move in the opposite direction and rewrite higher level questions at lower levels. The example below comes from a recent middle school math department meeting, but the exercise will work for any content area.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – A helpful infographic that organizes the different levels in an intuitive and aesthetically pleasing way. Bloom’s taxonomy divides educational objectives into three “domains:” cognitive, affective, and psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as “knowing/head,” “feeling/heart” and “doing/hands” respectively). The inner and outer circles connect verbs for learning objectives with matching assessment types.

Credit: K. Aainsqatsi

Credit: K. Aainsqatsi

Costa’s Three Levels of Questioning (adapted from Noelle Combs); CC BY SA)- This table aligns Costa’s Levels with Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Rewriting math questions at a higher level – An example of a math department’s recent attempt of this exercise.

Blended Learning & Differentiated Imstruction

(This is a part of the Deeper Learning Story Bank. Add your story!)

Story title: Blended Learning & Differentiated Instruction

Submitted by: Gail Corbett Dandelske

DL story: I’ve created a Storify to share my learning journey with you.


Thinking critically, Doing relevant, engaging work

Wk 6 email – badges!

(This is a duplicate of the Feb. 27 email sent to registered participants.)


Dear DLMOOC participants:

Today we are very excited to announce BADGES! We have two deeper learning badges you can apply for: Deeper Learner and Deeper Learning Guide. More information is available here. Show us how you’ve experienced deeper learning and earn a badge!

We have a great academic mindsets assessment survey from PERTS that you can do for this week’s Put it into Practice, and there are also some new interactive video segments from Zaption to try out.

And don’t forget our panel discussion today Feb. 27 at 4:00pm PT (Los Angeles). In this session, we’ll be hearing the dilemma of teachers Matt Strand and Kevin Denton talking about what academic mindsets looks like in the classroom.


Ben, Rob, Laura, Ryan, Karen, and the whole DLMOOC team

Lens into the Classroom – Academic mindsets

For this week’s Lens session (Thurs., Feb. 27 at 4pm Pacific), we’ll be doing a protocol with Matt Strand and Kevin Denton from the Polaris Expeditionary Learning School in Fort Collins, CO.  Polaris is a public (non-charter) “school of choice” in the Poudre School District that works in partnership with Expeditionary Learning to provide a unique and rigorous education for all students.

Their dilemma is: How do you explicitly teach academic mindsets and make it meaningful and authentic for students?

Here is some background on these teachers and their classrooms:

Matt Strand recently earned his PhD in Educational Leadership at Colorado State University while continuing to teach at Polaris.  He has taught 7th/8th Grade English in this Expeditionary Learning School for 13 years.  His students’ work has been featured in Expeditionary Learning’s Center for Student Work (example here), and his use of experts to engage Polaris students in compelling topics was featured in the September, 2010 issue of Educational Leadership.

Matt is finding the use of academic mindsets to be a powerful way to help students take more ownership of their learning.  Although he and his colleagues practice many approaches, two specific strategies he uses are self-assessment and peer critique.

Songwriting daily progress

Self-assessment involves students assessing and monitoring their progress on a project, level of sophistication with a skill or concept, or perception of effort on a task.  These assessments tend to be displayed briefly in the classroom but are anonymous to foster a sense of safety and honest reflection.  Their interpretations are not recorded in a gradebook or used to determine a final grade.  Self-assessment is meant to be a reflective strategy that helps students evaluate their learning and/or effort, make their progress in relation to their peers’ work more transparent, and clarify their next steps.  Self-assessment helps Matt get a sense of classroom trends and needs so he can adjust the instructional design and necessary scaffolding; when compared with other evidence of learning such as student writing or performance on formal and informal assessments, Matt also gains a clearer perspective of how well his students understand their learning targets. Self-assessment is therefore a reflection, progress monitoring, and goal-setting tool for both students and the teacher.

Peer critique for character maps

Peer critique for character maps

Peer critique is another powerful tool that can promote academic mindsets such as sense of belonging and beliefs about efficacy and growth (example here).  However, a general sense of emotional safety and careful scaffolding are prerequisites for this type of approach.  Matt has been a long time admirer of Ron Berger’s work, particularly his masterful facilitation of critique sessions.  Matt explicitly teaches students how to be kind, specific, and helpful when giving feedback to a peer.  He also helps students learn to evaluate a given learning target effectively by having them practice using strong and weak examples of work that model a specific criteria.  Sometimes these samples are anonymous student work; other times, Matt creates his own excerpts to illuminate high quality examples and common errors or pitfalls.  After practicing with these examples, students exchange work with a partner, assessing the work for the same criteria.  They use a short student-friendly rubric to give their own assessment.  They also jot down specific strengths and suggestions for improvement.  Matt is careful to coach students on this step, finding that it may take more than one experience with critique to provide written feedback that is truly kind, specific, and helpful.  Again, student assessments are not recorded in the gradebook and do not have direct bearing on a final grade.  Rather, peer critique is an act of service, a process that helps both the author of the work and the reviewer gain a more sophisticated understanding of quality work.

Self-assessment and peer critique help Matt bring academic content, instructional design, and academic mindsets together in his classroom.  But he also understands that his own learning with these approaches is never complete.  To this day, he continues to experiment and explore ways to engage students in deeper learning about content, skills, a healthy classroom community, and academic mindsets.

Kevin recently earned his M.S. in Instructional Design and technology and teaches primarily science and math content currently.  He has been a part of think tanks on academic mindsets with Camille Farrington, Eduardo Briceño, Ron Berger, Fund for Teachers and others in the past.  He and Matt recently presented a class on using peer critique to grow student mindsets at the Expeditionary Learning national conference in Atlanta.

Kevin admittedly started his journey with mindset work in the classroom after seeing much of what Matt was experimenting with in his English classroom.  Matt’s use of tangible protocols and strategies to have students reflect on theirs and their peer’s ability to hit learning targets was inspiring.  Making student progress visual as a part of the self-reflection process was particularly intriguing.

Kevin began experimenting himself with peer critique in the science classroom, but has focused the majority of his work in CREW–an academic advisory period.  Taking a familiar, but often ineffectively implemented strategy like goal-setting, Kevin sought to make this a more meaningful system. By providing frequent (weekly) and specific feedback on student academic goals he hoped to coach students on what it means to make goals that result in action and results, which in turn would impact their academic mindset about the possibility for improvement in many aspects of their life.  Additional feedback on consistent growth-mindset messaging (as opposed to fixed) was provided to help students begin to use this messaging in future goal setting and other opportunities to choose a growth mindset over a fixed one.

Here are some student work examples of goal setting toward academic mindsets:

Here is a video of some students talking about mindsets:

This is Polaris Expeditionary Learning School’s Academic Mindset Reflection Survey given to students to reflect before (and during) student-led conferences.

Here are the slides that we’ll be using for the protocol discussion:


Put it Into Practice – Academic Mindsets

This week we are focusing on academic mindsets, and our friends at PERTS have created a survey to help assess your student’s mindsets.  Make sure you watch the screencast below to see how to administer the survey.


We have also forged a new relationship with Zaption to find new ways to share and interact with our videos. Share these videos about academic mindsets and have  discussions about them.

DL badges are here!

We are very excited to announce the availability of two new deeper learning badges:Badge1
Deeper Learner

Deeper Learning Guide

You can click the links above to apply for these badges. All you have to do is submit a link to some work that shows that you experienced deeper learning through DLMOOC or that shows you helped others experience deeper learning.

Once you’ve earned a badge, you’ll be an “expert” who can review others’ submissions for the same badge. This is a model that can help connect people and build community. And after you’ve earned a badge, you can put it into your open badge backpack.

For those interested in more on badges, they are a way to represent and recognize a skill you’ve learned. Open badges, like the one’s we’ve created here, are not proprietary and are linked to some representation of work you’ve done (e.g. a blog post or a link to posts you’ve made in G+) that demonstrates the skill (e.g. deeper learning). In this way, they can be more useful than a transcript or resume, because employers or others can actually see the work that represents your skills.

And if you’d like to experiment with badges in your own learning environment, the P2PU badge creator makes it easy. I had a great time with some students last summer during which they created their own badges. (More info here.) They started by deciding what skills were really important to document. Then they defined the criteria for earning badges in the areas of their choice. Finally, they submitted and reviewed each others’ work. It was a powerful experience.