How and why do the MyWays learning constructs help students develop a range of the MyWays competencies simultaneously?

Write down the most valuable and enduring learning experience from your high school years—in school or outside of it.

Was it engaging, hands-on, authentic, filled with genuine responsibility? The MyWays Student Success Framework reflects what most everyone already knows from personal experience and what great educators have always sought to create for their students. But it’s not the kind of learning most schools prioritize or most students experience on a daily basis.

The MyWays team's research on the 5-5-5 Realities and the broader, deeper competencies today's youth need led to three key learning design constructs. These constructs can help you create schools specifically designed for more valuable, more enduring learning experiences like the one you remember.

  1. Whole Learning

  2. Wider Learning Ecosystem

  3. Levers for Capability and Agency


Filling Out the Field of Learning

The MyWays Field of Learning shows learning activities organized by the combination of the thinking skills and real-world abilities they require. The left-field line uses Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking skills. The right-field line represents the authenticity and complexity of the learning task.

Most learning in schools hugs the left-field line. But to cultivate both capability and agency across Habits of Success, Creative Know How, Content Knowledge, and Wayfinding Abilities, you need a balanced learning field. 

Project-based learning, advanced extracurriculars, community-based learning, and apprenticeships are the kinds of learning located in center-field, what we call situated learning. With whole learning, you can cover more of the field.


Whole Learning

Learning anything important requires being fully engaged in all of its elements and improving through doing. That’s Whole Learning, a concept drawn from David Perkins of Harvard’s Project Zero.

Learning experiences that "honor the whole" involve real working, playing, and co-creating. The richest, most enduring learning experiences encompass some or all of the seven principles of Whole Learning.

Using these principles, educators can create learning designs that offer “junior versions.” Junior versions keep the experience real, and whole, while supporting students who are novices developing their expertise.

You already know what junior versions look like and how they catalyze powerful learning: sports teams, multi-disciplinary school projects, drama clubs, school newspapers, student council, school orchestras, various forms of lab research, and workplace internships. Most of these are extracurricular, and yet many of us will readily cite them as the source of the most powerful, enduring learning we did in our high school years. The learning they represent comprise a significant resolution to some of the major challenges in K–12 education.


Wider Learning Ecosystem

All students need to leave school—frequently, regularly, and of course, temporarily.
— Big Picture Learning

To develop the broader, deeper competencies in the MyWays Student Success Framework, students need to get out of the school building.

The Wider Learning Ecosystem offers an on-ramp to the world of adults and an acceleration lane and life after high school.

Schools can engage the Wider Learning Ecosystem by linking real-world learning experiences with academic work and intentionally build much needed social capital, especially for disconnected youth. Schools are taking three approaches to link real-world learning with academic work: 


Experiences are fully embedded in the school's learning design.


Schools connect with organizational partners to offer a set of experiences.


Schools help individual learners connect with organizations or experiences of their choice. 

Go deeper with these ideas, discover the five zones of Wider Learning Ecosystem learning experiences, and access the tools within the NGLC MyWays Real-World Learning Toolkit:


Levers for Capability and Agency


Educators have eight levers they can use to create learning experiences that activate capability and agency, the two elements of competency.

Levers for Capability

  • Durable Retrieval

  • Desirable Difficulties

  • Cognitive Apprenticeship

  • Authentic Success

Levers for Agency

  • Scaffolded Self-Management

  • Supported Self-Reflection

  • Immersion in Adult Settings

  • Maker Empowerment



Explore the Report

Read "Part C: Redesigning the Learning Experience for the MyWays Competencies" to take a deeper look at the three MyWays learning constructs.

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to do more with these ideas? Use the tools in "Exercise Three: Map Your Learning Design to Your Community’s Definition of Success."

Go to Big Question 4

Check out the next question about redesigning assessment to learn how educators can MEASURE learning of the MyWays competencies.