Category Archives: Uncategorized

Here’s the Big Idea:


Public schools need to make available space, time, and $$$, for student online communities to grow within and between schools, in order to help generate social capital by using student data to advocate for resources from community partners. The only way to do this effectively is to teach students how to iterate through complex design problems and to teach them how to collect and use data to make sound design decisions. One way to do this is by using ‘The Bootstrapping Checklist’.

The Bootstrapping Checklist facilitates online collaboration for intermediate students by providing a real and authentic reason to learn skills like coding, digital marketing and technology, data analysis and analytics, and computer science – all at a younger age – and with an incentive to keep at it.

The Bootstrapping Checklist, which in my class occurs over a 5 month cycle, facilitates online collaboration which allows intermediate student projects to grow year over year. This is a massive shift in the way student projects are initiated and maintained, and when students know their ventures have the potential to grow, engagement and achievement go way up.

Projects are essentially open source and have the potential to generate ‘social capital’ – either in terms of relationships built (mentoring and volunteer recruitment to fulfill tasks to move projects forward), to cash and hardware donated to the school, again with the purpose of moving student projects forward. Because the design decisions are based on data, student voice is actually used to request resources, and I feel contributors are more likely to donate time or money if they know these resources have a defined purpose.

The social capital generated adds value to any school, board or community that makes space for this type of teaching and learning to grow. By engaging students more fully in their own community building, achievement actually goes up in terms of literacy and numeracy measurement for system accountability purposes, report card achievement, and soft skills gained, not to mention increased positive school climate.  

The Bootstrapping Checklist simply encourages schools to put a bit more emphasis on process, where the outcome of student projects is unknown from the outset, rather than with product, were generally very narrow success standards are used to measure student and school output.

School boards don’t need to measure The Bootstrapping Checklist the way they would measure literacy and numeracy in the ‘standardised testing for funds allocation’ kind of way.  As student online communities develop, these have the potential to add value to a school board by generating social capital in terms of relationships developed and fostered, and potential resources acquired – all using student data, or ‘voice’, to advocate for these resources.

As I know, open source student projects for social capital generation isn’t really being done in public schools – and I think this is a huge opportunity loss. We need to encourage this type of online collaboration using iterative cycles where social innovation, computer science and STEM curricular teaching and learning naturally flow from, and where student projects can potentially grow to generate social capital within and between school boards, year over year.

This slide show explains the Bootstrapping Checklist:

#entrepreneur #innovation #edtech #edchat #opensource #onlinecollab #education #year2year #local2global


Data Driven Design and the Process of STEM


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In order to create an environment which supports success in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in my small middle school classroom, the emphasis is on process, and not product, and iterative workflows are the key to continuous improvement.

Committing to any iterative inquiry or design cycle will help move students and teachers away from a performance (fixed) mindset toward a mastery (growth) mindset because students will learn to engage more with the process than the product – because it is the process that reveals the data that they need to continually improve.

Data Driven Design for middle and senior students is about getting kids to move away from caring so much about the products they make for school, to reflecting about what went well, and what didn’t so much, during the creative process.

It is about showing students how to apply the data that they have collected and interpreted to continually improve their products within an iterative workflow.

It is about getting them to see their products as what Pixar calls their ‘Most Recent Worst Versions’, and not simply a reason to ‘chase their marks’

Most importantly, it is about teachers showing students how to get data that belongs to them – and this changes the dynamic between teacher and student to allow for a growth mindset to occur for both.  This is how we will build an economy serviced by innovative and resilient people.

I have for many years been of the side of process versus product, and it was through this type of curriculum planning that I discovered that students need not be in control of the product, and that iterative inquiry cycles provide the structure needed to guide students through inquiry based learning projects where at the outset the products are unknown.

This is a paradigm shift for middle and senior students, parents, teachers and schools –  but it is a critical shift that needs to occur if we are to produce critically versatile thinkers and doers.  In this sense, the process frees the mind from a performance based attitude toward education (where normative standards are the measure of success) – to a growth mindset where the product is the student’s ‘Most Recent Worst Version’, and where the data collected to inform design becomes more important that the summative evaluation, or mark, given subjectively by the teacher.

In other words, formative assessment can and will override summative assessment in terms of importance once students see the value of it to inform their designs. Students can do this by becoming experts at collecting, organizing, and interpreting data to realize their visions and passions, and no longer get stuck on making something for the teacher. They will thus become ‘hungry for their own data’, because the data now serves their needs.

This is one place where entrepreneurial education and arts education intersect.  In DDD, the ‘bootstrapping checklist’ provides an explicit phase for data collection to inform the design process.  In art-making, ensuring that the critical analysis process is conducted during the art making process also provides students with valuable feedback to inform their works. And in all subjects, peer and teacher feedback occurs directly in the digital document that students are working in, and this feedback allows for these decisions to happen almost immediately.

Feedback actually leads to improvement, and a student who values this type of learning will exist in a growth mindset and will have the skills to navigate our ever increasingly competitive global marketplace.


“Following a structured approach to developing new ideas is critical for having a shot at actually being able to measure impact and value.”

Kristan ‘Krispy’ Uccello – software engineer at Google in CA



Chalkboard Drawing



I have been drawing most of my life, and I draw almost everyday in my classroom, especially at the end of the day to help me unwind.  These drawings are increasingly becoming interpretations of master comic book artists (this one is by Jim Lee, rather than just straight copies – which I think would be more than frustrating!

Because they are drawn in chalk, they are delicate and will eventually be erased.  The message to myself and to my students is to ‘not love your work too much’ – I believe this helps to promote more of a mastery mindset in my students.

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Mural Goes Up

We painted this mural June 2015 with 16 middle school students, the art teacher Ms. Kathleen Moll, myself, and with the help of Mr. Evond Blake – Mediah – our resident artist extraordinaire!

We can remove the panels and repaint them – thank you TDSB facility services – you rock!

The entire mural gets repainted at least once a year during our ‘arts jam’, and some individual panels can be removed and painted with visiting artist (hint! hint!).

Thank you as well to TDSB Arts Department and to Home Depot for their contributions.

OAEA Conference – Building Bridges, Creating STEAM


OAEA Conference – Building Bridges, Creating STEAM

It is my honour to present at this year’s Ontario Art Education Association (OAEA) Conference in Barrie on November 7, 2015. I will present some practical ideas to get middle school teachers and students to start using iterative, or structured, workflows more often, to glean the data that students need to continuously improve their projects.

Embedding a data collection and analysis phase within a creative or inquiry cycle (or problem based learning) is critical to moving students toward a mastery mindset, and sets them up to become more resilient and independent learners.

“Following a structured approach to developing new ideas is critical for having a shot at actually being able to measure impact and value.”

September 2015

Kristan ‘Krispy’ Uccello – software engineer at Google in CA  





This is my chalk drawing at HSMS art studio in 2009…it says “Boxta”…a student there used to call me ‘Mista Boxta’…gratefully, it stuck.

In 2010 I won two awards for the Humber Summit Visual Arts & Community Building Graffiti Program.

I now continue to design innovative programming to better meet the needs of our youth.

As an advocate for the arts in education and for our inner city youth, I look forward to sharing our ideas and conversations.

Rich Baxter

This blog is to connect with, and share works and ideas related to education, technology, social innovation and entrepreneurship, art and graffiti.
Interests Artist, Arts Advocate, Teacher at TDSB, Love Graffiti & Comic Art, Social Innovation, Teacherpreneur, EdTech
Going back to 2007
Going back to 2007
With Zenith (Zazh Vance) painting HSMS
With Zenith (Zach Vance) painting HSMS – 2007
BOXTA 2013
BOXTA 2013