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Make growth mindset a reality through goal setting and reflection

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Sunday, June 23, 2:30–3:30 pm
Location: 122A

Steve Bodley   Colin Gilbert  
Students are empowered by a digital goal setting and reflection platform to leverage specific skills and master core concepts. Reflecting on how one learns becomes even more important than the content - it creates better, more empowered learners.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Bring a laptop, Chromebook or iPad!
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Personalized learning
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participant outcomes / technology employed:
- Participants will know and be able to implement proven protocols and practices to empower students in goal-setting, self-tracking, and reflection.
- Attendees will also learn how to use Sown To Grow (, an online platform designed for students to go through these steps embedded in the day-to-day learning process. It also provides teachers with data and insights to inform instructional practice.

Educational challenge:
- Supporting students in getting better at the process of learning in addition to mastering content and skills. We hope to put the theory on metacognition into practice.
- We seek to create confident, self-driven, growth-oriented learners. With learning skills, they can reach their full potential – today and throughout their lives.

Models employed:
- Consistent student-led goal setting, self-tracking, and reflection on optimal learning strategies.

Instructional strategies employed:
- This presentation and learnings are based on implementation in the classroom.
- Mr. Bodley implemented a consistent routine of goal-setting and reflection utilizing the Sown To Grow platform with 95 students in his 8th grade Physical Sciences class.
- Students set learning goals, tracked their own progress, and wrote reflections on the strategies that work best for them (or new ones they wanted to try). The focus was on assignments and lab activities completed throughout the year across multiple units.
- Mr. Bodley set expectations, monitored growth, adapted reflection prompts, provided consistent feedback on reflections, and used student data insights to improve his instructional practice.

Evidence of success:
- Performance growth on academic performance, as demonstrated by examples of student work, grades, and student-written reflections on learning strategies (screenshots within the Sown To Grow platform illustrate these well)
- 3rd party evaluation data on how the goal-setting and reflection process leads to increase student performance
- There was also evidence of improvement in quality of peer feedback on skills, again demonstrating deeper learning.


Interactive opening (10 minutes) - Colin
- Interactive opening activity where teachers are putting themselves in the position of students on a new task, and go through a cycle of reflection in this role.
- We’ve done this activity in PD sessions before, and it illuminates how powerful reflection can be in the learning process.

Practices and protocols (10 minutes) - Mr. Bodley
- Reference research as to the “big why” [HANDOUT: Research summary for people to reference if needed - Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement
- Mr. Bodley’s process of implementing student-led goal setting and reflection
- Strategies and protocols executed in the classroom
- HANDOUT: Evidence of student growth - summary of Summary of visuals from Mr. Bodley’s classroom

Co-creation of reflection rubric and feedback guidance (15 minutes) - Colin
- Attendees engage with real student reflections, rate their quality and develop a rubric for assessing learning skills
- Attendees create feedback prompts on how they would improve student reflection (e.g., prompting questions, instructional strategies, etc)
- Resources and guidance provided by the presenters
- HANDOUT: Rubric for evaluating reflection quality - Colin

Practical tips (10 minutes) - Mr. Bodley
- How to get started
- How to frame and launch with students
- How to best set up in Sown To Grow to get the most out of the process

Best Practices from Schools Across the Country (10 minutes) - Colin
- Advisory, standards based, and personal goals models

Closing reflection activity (5 min) - Mr. Bodley

Supporting research

There are multiple researchers focused on the process of learning, and illuminating how student ownership, goal-setting and reflection on learning strategies can be game-changing for learners. Well known research includes Carol Dweck’s landmark research on growth mindset, where students understand that intelligence is developed with hard work and productive effort rather than through innate ability alone (Dweck, 2006). A critical piece of putting mindset theory into practice is to focus on learning strategies. In an interview, Dweck emphasized: “It’s not just effort, but strategy. You don’t want learners redoubling their efforts with the same ineffective strategies. You want them to know when to ask for help and when to use resources that are available (Gross-Loh, 2016).”

These findings point to a profound need for new tools and strategies to help students shift mindset. In addition to teaching students the concept of growth mindset, students must also learn and practice foundational skills that help them get better at the learning process: goal-setting, self-monitoring, and thoughtful reflection on strategies (Farrington et al, 2012). Our presentation describes how this research can be put into practice.

Here is a list of these references and additional research that supports our presentation.

- Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
- Farrington, C.A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T.S., Johnson, D.W., & Beechum, N.O. (2012). Teaching adolescents to become learners. The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.
- Gross-Loh, C. (2016). How praise became a consolation prize. The Atlantic. Retrieved from
- Johnston, J., & Barker, L.T. (2002). Assessing the impact of technology in teaching and learning: A sourcebook for evaluators. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.
- Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets That Promote Resilience: When Students Believe That Personal Characteristics Can Be Developed. Educational Psychologist, 47(4), 302-314. DOI:10.1080/00461520.2012.722805

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Steve Bodley, East Pennsboro Area Middle School
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Colin Gilbert, Sown To Grow

Colin Gilbert is a former high school teacher and Country Director of Jesuit Refugee Service in Jordan where he managed emergency education programs during the Syria crisis. In recent years he has worked in product management and partnerships with Sown To Grow collaborating with teachers around the US to improve student-led goal setting and reflection blended learning protocols.

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