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.

Wk. 6 email – Academic mindsets

(This is a duplicate of the Feb. 23 email sent to registered participants.)

Dear DLMOOC participants:

It’s week 6 of DLMOOC, and we’d like to invite you to RESTART your DLMOOC participation. Forget about what you haven’t done and pick up with something you’d like to do now.

This week, we’re looking at academic mindsets, and we know that this is a topic that many of you are really looking forward to. Here is a list of the activity options for this week.

And if academic mindsets aren’t your thing, stay tuned for the upcoming explorations of assessment of deeper learning and exhibiting student work, audience, and curation!


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



Regardless of how you have or haven’t participated in DLMOOC so far, we’d like to invite you to RESTART!


This MOOC has been designed to be flexible, so that you can come and go, drop out or drop in as you like. Each week’s content stands alone, so if you haven’t participated so far, it’s ok to join at any point.

And in the upcoming weeks, we have some great topics. Why not choose one that’s of interest to you, and see where you can go with it.

  • Week 6 starting Feb. 24 – Academic mindsets
  • Week 7 starting Mar. 3 – Assessment for deeper learning
  • Week 8 starting Mar. 10 – Exhibiting student work, audience, and curation

Learning isn’t linear, and we don’t think MOOCs should be either!

Why didn’t I get an ice cream?

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

Story title: Why didn’t I get an ice cream?

Submitted by: Simon Buckingham Shum
Bushfield School, Wolverton / Open Univ. / Bristol Univ.


At Bushfield School, Wolverton, a multi-cultural primary school of about 300, in an area with some social deprivation, we are embedding learning dispositions and authentic inquiry methodologies into the DNA of the school in a long term programme, which started about 5 years ago: http://bushfieldschool.net/learning

We started by adopting the language for learning that has come from the University of Bristol Grad School of Education, called Learning Power, which has arrived at very similar conclusions and pedagogies to Carol Dweck’s mindsets research, and provides a self-diagnostic survey tool called ELLI which makes one’s dispositions visible: http://bushfield.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/assessing-our-learning-power

Through continued work with Ruth Deakin Crick at Bristol, we have now started using a methodology called Authentic Inquiry* which gives students a lot of voice and choice about the focus of their inquiry projects, which must be on something they care about, and are run over 10 days with the whole curriculum cleared for this (apart from PE). We are trying to understand how well this works with primary age children (UK Years 5-6, aged 9-11) — e.g. how well can different ability children cope with such freedom, what scaffolds are needed, how do teachers monitor the progress of 30 different projects…?

A movie documenting a recent “AIP” (Authentic Inquiry Project) by Year 5, in which they all worked on a Fashion Show, is due out shortly, plus a report documenting it in detail. I’ll add links to these when they’re up. Blog posts with some photos at http://bushfield.wordpress.com/tag/aip


Here’s a story illustrating just one learning journey. A Yr 6 girl, not an academic high flyer, chose as her focal object/person/place a photo of herself on the beach as a toddler. The AIP interview with her went something like this:

“Why did you choose this photo for your AIP?”

“Because it was a summer holiday at the seaside that I always looked forward to.”

“Who’s that in the photo?”

“My brother and sister.”

“What’s going in the photo?”

“Well, that day I asked mum for an ice cream, but she had said no. But then later my big brother got one, and when my little sister asked, she did too.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“Sad. Left out.”

“So what did you do next in your AIP then?”

“When I talked to my teacher about my photo, I learnt that there’s something called Middle Child Syndrome, which is all about children like me who sometimes feel left out. So then I wanted to research that.”

“How did you do that?”

“I went on the web and learnt all about it, and then I designed a questionnaire to give to other middle children in the class, and videoed them talking about it.”

This précis illustrates how one moves in the Authentic Inquiry methodology from a concrete object/person/place, through a process of close observation, then questioning, into bigger questions, which then begin to connect with the wider funds of knowledge out there. Staff reported that they had never seen her so engaged in her learning, and rated the impact for her (they did this for all pupils) as transformational. For others, this was not the case, especially with lower literacy levels, and those with learning difficulties, with lower self-regulation.


It’s a challenge to monitor the progress of 30 different AIPs in a given class. One approach we’ve trialled for 3 AIPs now is having all students blog in a period reserved for this at the end of each day. They use a specially extended version of the WordPress platform that we developed, called EnquiryBlogger: info and open source WordPress Multisite plugins: http://learningemergence.net/tools/enquiryblogger.

This requires pupils to add categories to their posts which reflect the dimensions of Learning Power that they feel they are evidencing in the blog. E.g. “Resilience” when things really go wrong that day; “Curiosity” when they find themselves seeking out new information; “Learning Relationships” when they found that a peer could help them.

The tool then aggregates a visual spidergram as feedback to them on all the learning power dimensions they have blogged about, and the teachers get a dashboard of the whole class. It’s early days yet, it’s rough at the edges, but we have some encouraging results. A talk about this including a demo and student quotes are here: http://people.kmi.open.ac.uk/sbs/2012/06/enquiryblogger-seminar

* The academic grounding for the Authentic Inquiry pedagogy is detailed in this article:

Deakin Crick, Ruth (2009). Inquiry-based learning: reconciling the personal with the public in a democratic and archaeological pedagogy’, Curriculum Journal, 20:1,73-92. Open Access Eprint

Collaborating, Self-directing learning, Believing in yourself (academic mindsets), Doing relevant, engaging work, Making things

Deeper Learning for staff and students: a multifaceted story

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

Story title: Deeper Learning for staff and students: a multifaceted story

Submitted by: Simon Buckingham Shum
Open U. & Bristol U., UK

DL story: Hi all

I’m thoroughly enjoying tuning into this MOOC, exciting to see!

I thought you’d like to get a glimpse of what we’re doing in the UK, in a programme led by Ruth Deakin Crick (Grad School of Ed, Bristol University). She provides the educational research foundations, while I bring in the social learning tools and analytics. Here’s a movie of Ruth introducing her work: http://learningemergence.net/about/learning-futures-design-principles

Perhaps the following story is one of the best resources to start with, told from the perspectives of an educational researcher (Ruth), a secondary Headteacher (Rebecca), a learning tech researcher (me), and two teachers (Phil + Richard): http://learningemergence.net/2013/07/17/deed-elli-ai-ci-systemic-school-learning

In this example, you will elements of many of the key themes in our conversations: shared language for learning, staff learning culture, student engagement, evidencing impact, and building an evidence base that connects researchers and practitioners.

The web survey tool for student (and staff) self-assessment of learning dispositions (what Dweck calls mindsets) may be of particular interest, since conventional assessment regimes and tools are not fit for purpose when it comes to making deeper learning qualities visible. This movie introduces the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) in the broader context of analytics for deeper learning: http://learningemergence.net/2012/04/30/learning-powered-learning-analytics



Mastering core academic content, Self-directing learning, Believing in yourself (academic mindsets), Doing relevant, engaging work, Presenting work to a real audience

Curiosity and Grit

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

Story title: Curiosity and Grit

Submitted by: Monica Ready
Napa High School

DL story: My two and a half year old daughter is in an imaginative stage and I’m in awe at the pictures she sees in her mind. My husband and I, both educators, sit on blankets in our family room with moon suits (bathing suits and sun caps) on and travel to Jupiter’s rings. She asks questions about planets, the ants crawling in our house (not fun), nature, and much more. She has a world that she explores that isn’t real to us and it’s fascinating. But my wonder doesn’t stop at the door to my home; everyday I go to work as an administrator at a secondary school and I question where that sense of awe and wonder has gone. When do kids lose their curiosity? Why? How do we continue to engage them in exploration? How do we make them wonder?

These questions become ever more important to me when I look at my daughter and the students who pass through my office or the hallways of my school every day. I don’t want them to loose their imagination and sense of wonder. As I read about Kirk Phelps in Tony Wagner’s book Creating Innovators, the importance of exploration was reiterated and connected to the idea of grit (Duckworth). Phelps was able to lead a team to build the screen of the iPhone because he continued to push for exploration. He continued to ask “what if we do it this way or that way?” (Wagner, 45). This was my moment of discovery: when kids lose their curiosity, they lose their determination to persevere, their grit. When students lose their grit, they lose their confidence. The act of persevering through challenges builds stamina, resilience, and confidence. If we don’t allow kids the opportunity to explore, imagine, attempt the unknown, fail, try again, and succeed, then we’ve lost the entrepreneurial mindset; we’ve lost what makes America successful: the ability to innovate. As educators and parents, we need to ask, how do we continue to foster grit? We must allows students to try, fail, and try again. We must believe in a growth mindset that is clearly defined by Carol Dweck. We must allows students to explore and play. With the level of inquiry and application in the Common Core State Standards, now is the perfect time to let the pendulum swing back to curiosity and grit.

Believing in yourself (academic mindsets), Making things