We wanted to develop a skill that teachers can use to help their students be more successful test takers – particularly with high-stakes standardized testing. The Habits of Mind are a set of 16 attributes of what human beings do when they behave intelligently. Created by Bena Kallick and Art Costa, the Habits of Mind have been successfully incorporated into many classrooms throughout the world to promote better student performance.

Several key Habits of Mind are related to test taking, particularly 1) Persisting, 2) Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations, and 3) Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision. To provide context of how these Habits of Mind can be applied, we designed the skill to incorporate story based learning design.

What it does

In this Alexa skill, you’ll explore a vignette in which a student of yours is struggling during a test. You’ll first choose which Habit of Mind best supports his success. Then you’ll dig deeper to choose how you’ll engage the rest of the class in practicing a Habit of Mind by doing a class activity.

How I built it

I built this skill using the Interactive Adventure Game Tool posted on GitHub. We created the logo in Adobe Illustrator.

Challenges I ran into

This was the second Amazon Alexa skill I've created – The first being a very simple skill called Clarifying Questions. The first challenge I ran into was installing the apps needed on my Mac in order to run the Interactive Adventure Game Tool. I've done some light coding before, but this was a whole new ballgame for me. The instructions listed at link were written for an intermediate, not beginner, level. Once I figured out and successfully installed Node JS and became familiar with Mac OS Terminal I was on my way.

My next major challenge came after I started to use the tool to build my skill. I was inadvertently adding capitals to my utterances, which caused the Alexa online and testing tool to create errors. I did not know what the nature of the problem was nor where to find help. I did post my question in this forum and on GitHub but received no responses. After a few days and multiple attempts to resolve the problem, I found the nature of the problem and was able to finish building my skill.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I used the Persisting Habit of Mind to continue to work on this until I found resolution and success. I'm also proud of the collaboration I had with my subject matter expert, Terri, who worked with me to make sure that the content was as good as it could be.

What I learned

I learned how to create a branching scenario using voice design and how that is different than other types of micro-learning.

More importantly, when we showed this to a colleague, we saw the immediate and incredible impression it made and the excitement that it generated.

What's next for Habits of Mind Applied to Test Readiness

We will be adding more vignettes to the skill, which we have already mapped out. We also plan to use the same Interactive Adventure Game Tool to create additional areas in which the Habits of Mind can be applied to.

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