Wk 7 email – How do you assess DL?

(This is a duplicate of the March 6 email sent to registered participants.)
Dear DLMOOC participants:

As we explore assessing deeper learning this week, we invite you to share your own experiences with this topic — How do you assess deeper learning? What assessment is most useful to you and your students? What gets in the way? Share your thoughts on G+, Twitter, or your own blog. (And any of these would be a great submission to get your Deeper Learner badge as well!)

And here are some other ways to put DLMOOC into practice for this topic:

Finally, the High Tech High Graduate School of Education is offering full fellowships in School Leadership and Teacher Leadership, some of which also include a living stipend. Fellows are immersed in a HTH school for a year, while earning their M.Ed. Priority Deadline March 10 with rolling admission after this date. Questions can be sent to: hmurugesan@hightechhigh.org. More information is available here.


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

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:

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:


Wk 5 – Thurs. email – RESTART

(This is a duplicate of the Feb. 20 email sent to registered participants.)

Dear DLMOOC  participant,

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

Restart your MOOC learning

Remember that this is the #noguilt MOOC, and each week’s content stands independently, so you can come and go as you like!

Next week, we’re going to be talking about academic mindsets, and we know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting this topic. So it’s a good chance to jump in and sample a reading, watch a panel discussion, or try putting some of this into practice in your classroom. And if you haven’t posted a comment on our G+ community, now is a good time to try that as well.

We think there is a lot of value in groups connecting around live events as well. You could live tweet these sessions and submit your questions to the panels and lens discussion. And starting this week, DLMOOC would like to buy you coffee and bagels for your face-to-face meeting. Email us for more information.

And don’t forget our panel discussion today Feb. 20 at 4:00pm PT (Los Angeles). In this session, we’ll be hearing the dilemma of teacher Andrea Morton looking at what differentiation strategies might be effective for high-ability and high-achieving students in a mixed-ability classroom.


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

Wk 5 Lens into the Classroom – Feb. 20

This is background for our Feb. 20 “Lens into the Classroom” session.

Teacher: Andrea Morton, 6th Grade Humanities High Tech Middle North County

Dilemma: What effective differentiation strategies might I implement for high-ability and high-achieving students in a mixed-ability classroom, when working on a research and writing project, that will ensure access and challenge for all students?



In the Labels DECLASSIFIED project, 52 sixth graders from High Tech Middle Chula Vista identified their favorite food or personal care products and were then challenged to research them to discover the actual health effects upon their bodies.  Most students worked individually although some worked in pairs.

Each child did research using online tools like the Environmental Working Group’s SKIN DEEP website or FoodFacts.Com and then PubMed.GOV, to learn more about what the science and research actually say about the ingredients in their products.  They then wrote articles about their food or personal care products, taking each article through the full writing process… each student did between 4 and 9 drafts.

Articles were given KSH critique by family members, other students in class, older students in the 8th grade, close friends and their teacher.  There was a big push toward making the scientific knowledge understandable to other children.  During this process we also had guest experts who came to teach our students about various aspects of ingredients including a chemistry professor from the University of San Diego who taught about the molecular structure of ingredients; a chemistry professor from UCSD who taught about toxic ingredients and Superfund cleanup sites; a professional nutritionist who taught about healthy ingredients; and a food scientist and cosmetic chemist from CP KELCO who came in to teach the kids about the work they do in creating hydrocolloids for application in food and personal care products.

In the end, the students published their original articles along with oil pastel and watercolor art pieces in a book called “Labels DECLASSIFIED: The Truth Behind Your Products” now available for sale online on Amazon.Com and we also developed a project website where you can hear the students read the articles in their own voices.

This was a very successful project and we have much student work including filmed Presentation of Learning (POL) reflections and final student reflections on their digital portfolios (DPs) to share.

Additional resources:

The slides we used for this session are here:

Wk 4 – All-student panel

(This is a duplicate of the Feb. 13 email sent to registered participants.)

Dear DLMOOC  participant,

It’s week 4 of DLMOOC, and we’re exploring student voice and choice. Remember that each week of DLMOOC is a new and standalone topic and a chance to “restart,” so if you’re feeling like you’re following behind, no worries! Just pick up when you can and where you find value.


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

Wk. 3 Thurs. email

(This is a duplicate of the Feb. 6 email sent to registered participants.)

Dear DLMOOC  participant,

Just checking in as we are working our way through week 3 on students in the adult world (or wherever you happen to be in DLMOOC). We had a great panel discussion Monday. If you missed it, here’s the archive.

  • Our next Lens into the Classroom” session is today, Feb. 6 at 4pm Pacific (Los Angeles). We’ll be doing a consultancy protocol with teacher Randy Scherer looking at the following question: How does the school best help students derive and articulate meaning through the process of an internship experience? Some additional background information is available here.
  • Our Tweet of the Week this week is “In your own K-12 education, when did you have a chance to experience the adult world?” Tweet your response with the hashtags #dladultworld and #dlmooc
  • We have some fun Put it Into Practice activity options this week around visiting workplaces in your community, bringing outside experts into your school, and doing this “cold call” activity.

There are many great conversations going on in the main G+ community, in our smaller groups, and on Twitter. If you haven’t been a part of those, stop by and say hi!


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

Exploring internships with Randy Scherer

For this week’s “Lens into the Classroom” session, which will be on Thurs. Feb. 6 at 4pm Pacific (archive will be posted here), we’ll be doing a consultancy protocol with teacher Randy Scherer.

Randy’s dilemma is: “How does the school best help students derive and articulate meaning through the process of an internship experience?”

Here is a description of the consultancy protocol we’ll be using.


Randy’s classes are currently working on about a month of Humanities work centered on processing and publishing the stories of internships.His current internship-centered curricula arose out of his work in the HTH GSE, which explored the relationship between school and internship.

Here are some resources from Randy:

And here is some additional background on how High Tech High views internships:

Here are the slides we’ll be using for this session:

photo 2

Lens into the Classroom – Week 2

Today is our first “Lens into the Classroom” session.

Here are the slides we’ll be using:

Here is a description of the consultancy protocol we’ll be using.

There is more background on Brandon Cohen’s classroom and his dilemma here.

Here is the archived video of this session: