To begin the quarter, we started off with our professional development meeting focusing on the #worldofwork. During this session, we met at the Sweetwater Treatment Facility and learned about alternative professions that our students could gain skills for starting today that relate to blue energy. During our time there, we heard from the Innovation Station’s Michael Bruder as well as several other notable speakers who explained more about the percentage of job growth in this area that they foresee in the near future. This PD connected to what we are doing in our Mindlabs classes with the RIASEC themes and also gave some great ideas for creative and collaborative projects that will help connect your STEM, STEAM and VAPA lessons to the RIASEC themes of – realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional.



Similar to when we visited the San Diego Electrical Training Center, we had learned about ways to connect our classroom lessons to skills that are required for careers that do not necessarily require a four-year college degree. These skills and curricular connections can help students adjust their mindset so that they seek out careers that build on their existing interests and strengths. By giving our learners time to explore additional opportunities, we are also enabling them to recognize qualities within themselves that they may not necessarily have noticed without our support or guided lessons.

Applying these themes is something that can be done whenever you give group assignments and challenges. You may have various tasks that require your students to apply characteristics that help them successfully demonstrate their ability to be realistic, artistic, social, enterprising and/or conventional. By providing these opportunities and pointing out times throughout the day when these themes can be applied, we are helping our students be more aware of developing these skills.

Getting our students to start thinking about how they are demonstrating these skills can be done by first conversing with them about each different theme and helping them recognize the characteristics they have within themselves that may demonstrate these themes.



Often times, learners have misconceptions about various professions. This was addressed and elaborated on when the speakers shared some conversations with their students about gender stereotypes in various career paths. We can clear these misconceptions up starting right away in kindergarten. By getting students to discuss different careers, having them draw pictures of people who may hold those careers and by having guest speakers come in or participate in FaceTime video conferences, we can help our learners see that their career choices are limitless as long as they make a goal and stay focused on achieving that goal.

Sample Lessons

During our time at the Sweetwater Treatment Facility, each grade level participated in lessons that reflected the RIASEC themes.

Realistic (click the link for the video)

  • Objective: Build a circuit that can be used to adjust the sound level of a device
  • Skills Gained: Students are using the problem-solving skills they have learned to follow multiple step instructions from a technical manual that will eventually help them accomplish the task
  • RIASEC Connection: This activity is an example of the “realistic” theme because it gives the learners an opportunity to accomplish a task that is relevant to their science and informational reading as well as their use of technology outside of the classroom. It also requires to learner to use real life skills and applicable pre-existing knowledge.



  • Objective: Engineer a wind farm that will minimize the use of fossil fuels in your community
  • Skills Gained: Students analyze the factors impacting their surrounding area to construct a wind farm, they must understand the basics of the wind patterns in their area and strategize to make sure that they use the correct size blades and design their windmills so they face the correct direction
  • RIASEC Connection: This activity is an example of the “investigative” theme because it requires students to try several different designs and models before committing to one final product. The students need to research and apply thier knowledge in science in order to complete this challenge successfully.



  • Objective: Design an energy efficient school that uses sustainable energy
  • Skills Gained: Students being to research and consider alternative energy solutions that they may not have considered before. As they research, they are learning how to apply their knowledge in a new way by designing a school or structure that relies upon green and/or blue energy
  • RIASEC Connection: This activity is an example of the “artistic” theme because it requires learners to use their knowledge to design a prototype or product that will help reach their objective. The students can use photographs, movies, paintings and drawings to successfully apply their art skills to complete this challenge.



  • Objective: Plan a community event to promote your school’s robotics team
  • Skills Gained: Students must understand what logistics go into planning an event and they must consider potential problems like space, numbers of attendees, strategies for promoting the event, etc.
  • RIASEC Connection: This activity is an example of the “social” theme because it requires learners to organize and plan an event that could potentially be held at their school. These students needs to connect experts in different areas in order to plan a successful event.



  • Objective: Write a sales ad for solar energy
  • Skills Gained: Students learn about how to market their product and develop entrepreneurial skills by considering who their target audience is and by recognizing their interests and marketing towards each person as an individual by considering their particular needs
  • RIASEC Connection. This activity is an example of the “enterprising” theme because it requires learners to take a product and market it to a target audience. These students need to be energetic and ambitious in order to create a successful advertisement.



  • Objective: Complete an “I Have Who Has” round to learn technical definitions and respond to specific scenarios.
  • Skills Gained: Students learn about the basics of a planned topic by reviewing technical terms and answering each other’s questions
  • RIASEC Connection: This activity is an example of the “conventional” theme because it requires each learner to both speak and listen to their fellow team members in order to complete the objective while maintaining order and organization of the activity. These students need to show their organization skills and extreme focus in order to make the activity work.


I encourage you to check out these lessons and to reflect on how you are already applying these themes in your classroom!

Importance of Time to Reflect

Reflection time is probably the most omitted part of our lessons due to time constraints and the desire to fit in as much as possible to our academic day. However, time to reflect can pose as a great way to better understand what your students are taking away from the day’s lessons. I am not saying that we should throw everything else out and just have students reflect, but I am saying that this can be used as a way to better understand what misconceptions still exist and help you form your small groups for the next time you meet or bring up the topics discussed. This can be done in the form of a closing circle, an exit ticket, or even a small group collaborative conversation.

“Reflection is a crucial part of the work that we do, and without looking back, it is almost impossible to move forward.”

George Couros

The Principal of Change


Addressing the RIASEC themes is not simply one more thing, instead, it is a way to get our learners to converse about the skills they are developing that could help them grow and learn about potential future careers. The lessons provided (as seen above) can be used to enhance your science, math and reading curriculum while helping students explore their strengths and better understanding the World of Work. Please share your thoughts on applying the RIASEC themes to you class!

From Differentiation to Individualization

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Driving Objective

When education works to reach each individual learner, it creates opportunities to recognize and apply strengths, interests, and values while applying voice and choice to the everyday education of all learners.

What would it do to a school if we recognized and applied the strengths, interests, and values of each learner as individuals? How would this empower our learners and give them a deeper purpose in learning? 


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Each learner is an individual who is developing their own strengths, interests, and values and whose voice and choice should be recognized in their everyday learning and everyday assignments. When we empower learners by connecting their passions to academics, they are more likely to put an increased effort into their work which will make the learning more purposeful.

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Starting by developing an understanding of the strengths, interests, and values within each learning then moving on to recognizing these qualities in each individual learner can empower learners and create a more effective learning experience.

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Recognizing strengths, interests, and values, can begin with the Thrively Strengths Assessment. How powerful would it be if we used those strengths along with what we notice about each individual student and applied it to their academics? For example, if a student is interested in makeup, have them volunteer for theater and help with the play. If a student is struggling to demonstrate compassion, pair them up with a student who had this strength and give them support as they learn from each other.


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When our lessons are more individualized and allow for voice and choice, they are:

  • More relevant to challenges that are being faced today
  • More meaningful and applicable to tasks that are immediate
  • More reasons to create quality work now
  • More purposeful, which will help increase retention of learning

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The 4 Cs – Communication, collaboration, creativity & innovation, and thinking critically – according to P21 are skills that are essential to helping our students develop because they are necessary for tackling  tasks and largert challenges. We can provide opportunities to develop these skills by connecting learners to global audiences, allowing students to create projects based on learning, and starting conversations about the world of work

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Together, we can develop a growth mindset with our learners so that when challenges arise, we have a community of school support and resources at hand that will help us work through those challenges together – creatively and collaboratively while using communication skills and critical thinking.

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Developing a growth mindset to help students continue developing their strengths and recognizing the strengths in others is one way that we can create meaningful groups and help individualize our lessons so that each student sees the purpose and value in their learning. 

Images Taking Differentiation Further to Provide Individulaized Learning.034Encourage the conversation about voice and choice to start so that everyone is aware of why individuality in learning is important. This can begin with both understanding and applying students’ strengths, interests, and values. This does not mean that each student should have a separate assignment. Instead, it means that the students should have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a way that is best for them – a blog, an iMovie, an interview, a digital media presentation, etc. Talking to our learners and understanding more about how they would like to demonstrate their learning can make them feel more empowered than if they are given an assignment that is created by the teacher for the teacher. We can remove limitations on learning by making sure that we give options that will best apply to each individual learner.

For more research and information on this, download our Hypedoc (a document with links embedded in the text) from participate: https://bit.ly/2pKDFcA.

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This document has links to all of the research presented in this article: https://bit.ly/2pKDFcA


World of Work & Thrively

Across campus at Feaster Charter, students are exploring the World of Work (WoW). Inspired by the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, students are using their strengths from the Thrively assessment and connecting them to potential careers. This enables students to start reflecting on what careers are best matched with their current strengths. They use the World of Work Career Cards to discover careers they may never have considered before, reflect on what strengths, interests, and values would be best connected to those careers, and analyze crucial statistics about their potential career.

Engineering Mindlabs Class

During their weekly engineering class, students in middle school worked to explore various careers related to the STEM field.

Using the Career Cards (seen above), students worked to discover careers that would most interest them and they listed these careers on their tables using whiteboard markers. Then, they reflected on what strengths would be needed to excel in this career. This exercise gets students to work collaboratively as they discuss what strengths would be most vital for each career they have chosen. During this exploration, students also start to recognize the strengths of their peers as they converse about the various strengths they have learned about through their Thrively profiles.

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These Career Cards are also used to get students to understand important statistics before they commit to certain careers:

  • Job description
  • Wages
  • Projected growth
  • Education levels (percentages given 3 most common)

The conversation, reflection, connection to college and career, and in depth analysis of STEM careers is an effective way to get students to start thinking about what they can do today to make sure they are building their personal strengths and recognizing the strengths of their peers.

Technology Mindlabs Class

In this class, students started building their Thrively portfolios where they can add text, video, audio, and images. They have been researching their strengths and photoshopping images to be uploaded to their portfolio. They are developing digital media skills as they learn how to use Photoshop to alter images that are related to their strengths.

This project is helping students recognize what qualities they have that best exemplify their personal strengths. They are completing an in depth analysis of their strengths after they have photoshopped images illustrating their top five strengths from Thrively. This in depth analysis is recorded in their portfolio as they write/record/video tape their reflections that explain what their strengths are and how they demonstrate them.


Teachers have started using Thrively as a resource to support their current classroom curriculum. The videos, articles, and courses have been integrated into reading, writing, and character education.

  • Note taking skills (Cornell Notes for AVID classes in 5th – 8th)
  • Students watch and reflect on videos, questions and discussions are centered around classroom curriculum
  • Student reflection – writing with a purpose
  • Existing projects created by Thrively and other teachers
  • Use Skills section for resources for writing prompts and trust circles


An in-depth understanding of their strengths helps each individual student build confidence, supports them as they are setting career goals, and gives them strategies that will help them build social intelligence as they recognize the strengths of others. A community is built when these strengths are recognized, connected to the World of Work, fostered, and reflected on by everyone in a learning environment.

From our vision:

…we are fostering leadership and reasoning skills, as well as increasing self-esteem at a young age to make a life changing impact…

By supporting the development of the strengths of each individual student, we are giving them opportunities to be leaders today.

Share how you are using Thrively and brining up the World of Work in your class to our school hashtag: #FeasterCharter.