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Seeing How Our Students Learn: 'Selfie of My Visible Learning' Sketch Exercise

Explore and create

Explore and create : Creation lab

Saturday, December 5, 10:00–10:50 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Dr. Rayna Freedman  
Caitlin Krause  

We teach better when we know how to reach our students. How can we reach them if we don’t understand how they think and learn best? Come learn an exercise, convenient for distance/blended learning, that reinforces visible learning by allowing teachers to see through the eyes of our students.

Audience: Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Professional developers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: It is helpful if attendees come prepared with some device on which to sketch. If using a digital device, it's helpful to have a sketching/drawing app accessible so that they can actively engage in the activity. We will have resources on-hand, including analog sketch materials, so that everyone can participate!
Topic: Universal Design for Learning/differentiated learning
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Not applicable, ESL
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Global Collaborator
  • Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation, Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

In 2013, Caitlin Krause invented a simple “Selfie of How I Learn” exercise to do with her 7th and 8th grade classes in Zurich, Switzerland, where her students came from all different countries and language backgrounds. She wanted them to imagine taking a snapshot of their minds engaged in learning, and show the results in a “selfie” sketch design that represented visible ways of learning.

The results were beyond her expectations, sparking dialogue, community, better understanding and a sense of belonging.

Over the years, Rayna Freedman has continued to use this activity with students in her classroom, where she blends physical and digital learning tools that focus on the whole learner.

Here at ISTE, we will share the exercise and the frameworks that underpin it, showing a simple way to engage and connect, with tremendous outcomes. We emphasize models employed, and the clear connection to underlying pedagogical philosophy that will help strengthen both the base of your classroom community.

Just as John Hattie has discovered through his research, “Visible Learning and Teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers.” As we want to increase student agency and ownership, we first have to build a community of mutual understanding and relational trust.


This session-- even though virtual!-- invites teachers to get involved as active participants, as we guide them through the “Selfie” exercise, which is sure to connect the class as a community. Students find it fun and engaging, and teachers get to peer into students' minds and learn how to connect more deeply, which informs their education design choices for the year!

These simple strategies provide a structure that makes students’ thinking visible to themselves and their peers, while at the same time helping educators to assess their students for understanding. It can be used in a virtual classroom as a remote learning exercise, reinforcing the power of relationships and community.

Supporting research

The Long View of Visible Learning’s Impact:

Selfie of my Visible Learning (pinterest):

Docs presentation (by Rayna Freedman):

More [+]


Dr. Rayna Freedman, Jordan/Jackson Elementary Mansfield

Rayna Freedman is a 5th grade teacher at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, MA. She has taught grades 3-5 and is an ITS. Rayna has a B.S. in Education from the University of Vermont and a M.Ed in Educational Technology from Lesley University. She’s working on her doctorate through Northeastern. Rayna is President of MassCUE . She is a Google Level 2 certified educator, a BrainPOP certified educator, Flipgrid Ambassador, Fablevision Ambassador and Wakelet Ambassador. Rayna has presented for MassCUE, ISTE, Ed Tech Teacher, Tech and Learning, Medfield Digital Learning Day, FETC, BPLC, and BLC.

Caitlin Krause, MindWise

Caitlin focuses on the intersection of technology and wellbeing. She teaches at Stanford University. In September of 2020 she released Designing Wonder: Leading Transformative Experiences in VR. She co-authored the XR Collaboration Global Resource Guide, unveiled at AWE 2020. Caitlin runs numerous collaborative experiences in social XR, fusing presence, mindfulness, curiosity & storytelling. After two decades of classroom teaching and leadership, she authored Mindful By Design (Corwin Press, 2019) helping individuals and teams navigate complexity and change, prioritizing wellbeing, design and imagination. Caitlin is Community and Business Development Director at the Virtual World Society. Find out more at

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