Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

The ‘Where’s your head at?’ scale.

A constantly used brilliant resource which makes students actively think about their level of learning!

 A few years ago, I invented this to help my project based learning students analyse what level of thinking they were using to apply themselves. It allowed students to consider whether they were fully immersed in a project or just skimming the surface. It has had a profound effect on how students recongise their own levels of thinking. It also helps higher ability students think about what they need to do to push themesleves further. The whole Pebble team have adopted this for a couple of years now. All with the same philosophy, but a range of creative formats.

‘Where’s your head at’ can mean:

Primarily How deeply you are thinking about a task, but could be:

How organised/prepared you are for a lesson.

How ‘up for’ a task you are.

How well you are working as a team.

How much care is going into a task.

A great ‘check in’ tool to see where their heads are at just walking in to the lesson.

Anything else you think of to do with motivation or learning!

This scale can be used in many different ways, and not just for Pebble!

Thinking notes

When a student says something which proves they have been thinking, write it down and put it on the scale where you feel it should be. This is particularly powerful at the beginning of a lesson if a student has spoken to you between lessons about their thinking.  It’s also a really good thing to use at the end of the lesson, to highlight good thinking and to remind students that good thinkers never switch off when the lesson finishes.  These thinking notes can be put into their journals as evidence of their thinking.

Physical Scale

Ask students to place themselves where their thinking is at, in terms of understanding, motivation, risk-taking, how involved they are with a task. A good way to get students to justify their position especially if you don’t agree.

Photo evidence

Taking photos of students working on particular tasks, especially if you can add captions can really help students make sense of the scale, plus it adds more colour! For example, if a student forgets homework, get them to pull a sad/embarrassed face (with DT slip) and stick it up next to Homer! Obviously for great work or thinking, the same applies, except for the facial expression.

Student Voice

Students can use the slips provided to add their own comments about good thinking/attitude etc. As a class you can agree where it should go on the scale. Great plenary task.

A scale for challenge

Students could use it a bit like the risk-o-meter and place themselves where they feel their head is at or where they feel it might be with the demands of a particular task.

Displaying work

Ask students to pin up their work, (works particularly well with arty stuff) next to where they feel they should be on the scale due to their thinking when creating their work. Good to then discuss what evidence of good thinking would look like and then allow students to move themselves up or down, great device for discussion at this point- who should go up the scale and why, who should move down…

You could also pin up work before students come in to the lesson to start a discussion.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for 1, I use poor old Homer Simpson as the anti-thinker, pretty apt I think, for students who just ‘turn up’ can be forgetful and don’t give enough of themselves. 2 being the ‘toe dipper’, quite happy to be left to get on with it, but never really truly engages with a challenge. 3 is Mr. Frustration, it becomes too hard or something goes wrong so we go backwards not forwards in our thinking , but at least they are frustrated! I have used a 4 as a bench mark, using a brain with cogs- a student who is engaged, organised and working effectively.  Above this, the magic is happening! I think you are all capable of deciding what goes on from there, but I have pictures of people diving into deep water- fully immersed in a task, Einstein at 10 and someone meditating at 9. When students are in ‘flow’, where they are making lots of connections and putting them together to create new work of real value, a bit like extended abstract a la SOLO taxonomy, this is when the higher levels are appropriate.

A really great device to get students thinking about their thinking.



  1. Pingback: Developing the growth mindset in schools. | Where's your head at?

  2. I love your idea because thinking about thinking seems foreign to many kids in middle school years. By visualizing where one is at in one’s thinking process, it is a helpful motivator and reflection of the self. May I use this?

    • It really works! Would love to see others use and adapt it. Please send me a picture of it when you have it in your classroom!

  3. So much amazing work an ideas posted on your blog- kiddos to you and your creativity! Your kids are so lucky to have as an educator!

  4. Hi Pete,
    Did you trial this first or throw yourself into it at the deep end with all your year groups? I teach English , I’m in my second year and it just strikes me as such an incredible idea. Visually it will waken the kids up and also add responsibility for their own learning…. Is it just being brave and taking the bull by the horns to bring it into the classroom?

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