There are almost as many ways to use ELLI as there are teachers and students. Nonetheless, it’s primary purposes are to improve student learning skills and in doing so, improve their mastery of the subject matter with which they are presented. In other words, to inspire students to want to get to grips with the ‘how’ of learning and use their newly understood skills to explore the ‘what’.

This can be fun for teachers too! They can also prepare to embody ELLI’s principles in their classroom practices by exercising their own creativity, curiosity, resilience and strategic awareness.

Let’s start with the fun for you as teacher and coach … matching your perception of your personal learning skills with ELLI’s taste of reality!?


Download the blank profile and using your understanding of the 7 dimensions described in the section Learning’s 7 Dimensions complete your profile as you perceive your learning skills to be


If you have already taken advantage of our offer of a FREE Trial and know what your profile is in reality you can still put it to one side and draw your perceived profile.

If your school is yet to experience ELLI, take advantage of our FREE Trial offer so that you can compare your perception with the ELLI reality.


Before you know what your student scores might be, how about asking yourself one or two questions?

  1. What do I currently do to support the development of the 7 dimensions?
  2. Is there anything that I do at present that might inhibit the development of any of them? (It may be that by differentiating between individual students you are unintentionally limiting student opportunity to display eg. Resilience).
  3. Having learned more about myself as a learner, is there anything that I might usefully add to my teaching repertoire?

NOW … think of 3 children in your class and try to imagine what their profiles might look like. You can use the blank profile for this too. You might even go one stage further and think of a student with a strength, or a weakness, in each of the 7 dimensions.

Acess your profiles to begin to think how you might use ELLI to help your students begin to think about how they learn, how they might help themselves to change their learning habits and how your practices as a teacher might change to give them greater confidence as they work with the subject matter.

HERE ARE SOME WELL-TRIED AND TESTED IDEAS … they have been developed by experienced teachers for those new to ELLI and its ability to change the way students approach their learning

1. Making your learning in class easier by knowing how you do it ..

  • Sometimes you find it easier to do things than at others
  • A lot of this has to do with how you approach it, partly whether the subject excites you or not but also partly because you don’t know what particular learning habits you use when difficulties arise or you are faced with subjects in which you think you have little interest.
  • You are used to your teacher standing up in front of you and telling you about things that are new to you but we are now going to talk about you as a student learning to learn.
  • However, this is not just about how you learn at school but how you learn at home and from your parents, your relatives, your friends and other that you meet
  • You have been learning since the day you were born … first, in the security of your own home and from your parents and family but, since then, from all manner of people. We all learn from our mistakes as well as our successes
  • So, by learning how you do it we shall try to make your learning fun AND give you a new language in order that you can talk about learning and notice how your understanding of how you learn enables you to become better at it.

2. The Language of Learning

  • We are all learning something new every single day … I’ll tell you what I have learned today but first let’s find out what each of you have learned that is new to you?
  • Every new experience we have, every new bit of knowledge we come across we add to what we already know and, whether we realise it or not at the time, will change, however slightly, the way we think about things or even how we do things.
  • So, the first thing we learn about learning is that it will bring about a change in us. Or, it might! In other words we have to use whatever we have learned to make us better at learning and allow us to change our habits or the way we behave.

We are going to find out about whether or not you allow what you learn to help you get better at learning by finding out whether or not it brings about any change.Possible answers to each question you will be asked and all that you have to do is to say whether …

  • It is very like you
  • Quite like you
  • A little like you
  • Not at all like you

There are no right or wrong answers so that the important thing is to be accurate and truthful about yourself … low scores are just as important as high scores so try to get all your scores ‘just right’.

There are 7 particular characteristics or dimensions that influence how we learn and the first is Changing and Learning

What are the other 6?

  • Creativity is not just about writing, painting or music but how we use our imagination and come up with whacky ideas when we feel that we need to find a different way of doing things.
  • Critical Curiosity is about looking for new knowledge and trying to find new ways of solving problems
  • Meaning Making is simply about how we put bits of information together, adding new knowledge or experience to what we already know to come up with something else
  • Learning Relationships … who we learn with or from or even sometimes, learning alone
  • Strategic Awareness … how much you know about yourself and your learning and whether or not you are interested in finding out more
  • Resilience … how far you are prepared to persist when the going gets tough and even whether or not you are happy to make mistakes and learn from them.

DON’T FORGET that the language we use is that that emerged from the original research and you are entirely free to use your own as long as the meanings remain the same and your explanations still ring true. Many schools and students do like to develop their own language … and even their own icons.

3. The Questionnaire … a few helpful hints

  • There really are no right or wrong answers so that it is important to be true to yourself and answer honestly
  • The questionnaire is quite long and some of the questions may appear to repeat themselves BUT they don’t! (the fact they appear to be very similar is the way that research questionnaires work!!) You should read each one very carefully to make sure you have fully understood it
  • Once you know that you have understood the question, don’t dwell on it, just give the answer that suits you best … and try t keep up an even pace without dwelling too much anywhere
  • In answering try to think of yourself as you are now in the situations you learn in … at school, at home or anywhere else
  • Ask for help if you don’t understand a question or think that you won’t finish in the time you are being allowed.

When considering the introduction of reflective conversations into their teaching practice, teachers will find themselves debating the type of conversational framework that will best suit their students. The following questions will be helpful in determining that framework:

  • How will the reflective conversations, that will inevitably take time, fit into the timetable?
  • How long should I/we expect these conversations to be, or indeed allow them to be?
  • Would it be appropriate to group students together to make conversations more lively and to share their relevance?
  • How can the very different nature of these coaching conversations be most effective when accommodating the very different needs of different students?
  • How will students react to their learning profiles and how can I ensure that they will seek to pursue their learning journeys?

Planning Conversations that Inspire Students to make their Learning Journeys

By questioning the student profile shapes you begin to gain an understanding of what they might imply about each student. Your interrogation will help you to shape a series of questions that you could profitably pursue with each student or group of students. Remember not just to look at the strengths and weaknesses demonstrated by scores for individual dimensions but at the pattern as a whole. This is important because you will be able to use personal strengths to support the development of appropriate interventions as you work on the weaknesses. Apart from that by thinking through each profile carefully you can learn a great deal more about your student’s approach to learning than perhaps you already knew.

Where the dimensional profile shows ‘a lot like me’ or high scores

Ask yourself:

  • Do these profiles reflect my students as I know them?
  • Do I agree with the profiles?
  • Has each student provided a realistic view of themselves?
  • Is there some over-confidence being exhibited here?
  • How well does the student understand the dimensions?
  • Do I think that this is a true representation of what the students are like most of the time?
  • Are there times when they are nothing like this? When?
  • Will the students see themselves as they are portrayed?
  • Which of the dimensions are worthy of a closer look?
  • Is the balance of strengths and weaknesses as I would expect?

When approaching your students with their profiles you might try the following openers to prompt early conversation:

  • Your profile is really interesting. Do you think that it properly reflects how you learn?
  • What do you think about this record of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Let’s now go through your scores for each dimension/behavior?
  • What do you think this profile says about you?
  • Are you like this most of the time?
  • What about when you are at home or out with your friends?
  • Are there times when you know that you are not behaving like this? Share them with me.
  • So, let’s talk about a dimension in which you have a particular strength … you choose
  • What about your weaknesses? Let’s examine one of those … your choice

Where the dimensions tend to show ‘a bit like me’ or middling scores

Ask yourself:

  • Is this student really like this or have they played safe?
  • Would I agree with this profile or is this student showing me a lack of confidence in his or herself?
  • Does the student actually fully understand the dimensions?
  • Are there times when I overlook this student rather than trying to understand who they really are?
  • Which of the dimensions do I think should have come through more strongly, or perhaps scored more weakly?
  • Will the student see themselves like this?
  • Perhaps I might try using a blank profile to get this student to draw a pattern that they think best represents them?

In this instance you might think about trying the following openers

  • Before we look at your actual profile, how about drawing it for me … how you think the questionnaire will have drawn its picture of you from the questions you answered?
  • Now let’s compare what you have said about yourself … remembering that in both cases it is you that has spoken!
  • Why do you think that many of your scores are in the middle with relatively few as ‘peaks’ or strengths and equally few as ‘troughs’ or weaknesses?
  • So, how about us tackling one dimension in which you have a strength together? You choose.
  • Now, one in which you feel you might be weaker than in some of the others. Again your choice.

Where the dimensions exhibit ‘not like me’ or particularly low scores

Ask yourself:

  • Is this a profile I would expect for this student or have I missed something that I should have picked up?
  • What, if anything, should now be worrying me about this student? Does this profile reflect what I already know? Is there something more that I can do about it?
  • Does this student fully understand the dimensions? Maybe I should use the blank profile here, put the actual profile to one side and get them to draw what they think their profile should have said about them?
  • Are there times when I know this student isn’t like this?
  • I think that I might begin here by getting the student to talk about their scores in one of each of the stringer and weaker dimensions.

You might try the following openers:

  • Before we look at your actual profile, how about drawing it for me … how you think the questionnaire will have drawn its picture of you from the questions you answered?
  • Now let’s compare what you have said about yourself … remembering that in both cases it is you that has spoken!
  • Why do you think that many of your scores are so low with relatively few as ‘peaks’ or strengths?
  • So, how about us tackling one dimension in which you have a strength together? You choose.
  • Now, one in which you feel you are weaker than in some of the others. Again your choice.

As an introduction to student plans of action, it is often helpful for teachers to offer their students self-help ideas to help them strengthen their learning attitudes or dispositions. As part of creating a student’s plan of action their teachers should think about:

  • the hints and tips that they might have up their sleeve in preparation for this coaching conversation;
  • a few everyday improvement activities that will be relevant for each of their students;
  • making a list of, say, 10 ideas to share with students.

How about using Creativity as a starting point to demonstrate what you have in mind when it comes to action planning?


imagination | free-thinking | exploration | innovation | playfulness | innovation | investigative enquiry | experimentation | intuition | problem-solving | originality | ‘strikes of genius’ | creating change

Students in the driving seat! Ideas for teacher messaging …

  • Try guessing at solutions before working them out; see how good your guess was
  • Play games with routine tasks like revision, rote learning and writing up notes: e.g. timing yourself; inventing a board game; playing ‘any questions?’ or swapping quizzes or crosswords with a friend
  • Make up characters and situations in which the concepts, ideas and facts in the way in which you learn come to life for you: write or imagine scripts and scenes;
  • Use colour and draw pictures, diagrams, funny faces, symbols, to illustrate your notes;
  • Make mind-maps with labels or draw ‘trees’ to illustrate the way that your thought processes take shape. ‘meaning branches’ to show how possibilities multiply when you think about alternative scenarios;
  • Use a different kind of writing to present your work: e.g. a stream of consciousness, diary, a cartoon, a news article; try a story book with illustrations, to explain the topic to a much younger learner;
  • Think about the rules you tend to follow in your learning and see if you can break them down constructively by doing something differently;
  • Let your mind ‘float free’ when you are stuck or puzzled; see if your imagination comes up with a way forward;
  • Trust your subconscious mind as much as you do your ability to think through a problem that has given you trouble to resolve.

Learning to see the ‘bigger picture’

First, some thoughts on the way in which teachers might amend their classroom practice to support the development of the students’ learning habits

  • How would you tweak your classroom practice or culture to support the learning dimensions that your students need to strengthen?
  • Ask yourself which of the learning dimensions are showing low scores for most students and why you think that might be?
  • Would it be a good idea to select the lowest scoring learning dimensions to work on first?
  • What do you already do to support the growth of each of the learning dimensions, how might tweak them and what difference do you expect any change to make?
  • It is always a good idea to highlight things that go on outside the classroom that your students might try to approach and do differently.

Growing Strategic Awareness


thoughtful | reflective | making conscious choices | planning | readily sharing learning experiences | acute personal awareness | exercising control | applying effective learning strategies | hungry for new knowledge | experiments to find best practice


  • to help students to identify what is, and what is not, important;
  • to develop long-term memories and understandings;
  • to grow and improve student understanding of the learning process;
  • to develop students’ awareness of how they learn, their learning strengths and relative weaknesses.

Making a start … reflecting on the ‘what’ of learning … that all-important subject-matter!

1. How about using post-its or cards to capture the best ideas?

Giving students a large piece of paper encourages them to write too much. It can be a useful strategy for capturing detail, but doesn’t help when needing to weigh up what is really important. Get your students to make notes on cards or post-its – large enough for the key points, but too small for unnecessary detail. Encourage students to discuss what must be on their note, and what can be safely considered ‘detail’.

2. Conversions

If information is currently framed in one of the following, for example, challenge students to change it into another format of their choosing: text; mind map; flow diagram; storyboard; graph; Venn diagram; ranked bullet points/list; video; teacher explanation; revision notes. Consider limiting the number of words that can be used – forcing students either to limit words and/or employ images instead, encouraging them to distil what is really important and salient. Converting information from one medium to another requires students to identify the key features. It can only be converted if it is understood, so that this technique promotes deeper learning. Where students are struggling, it can reveal misconceptions. It helps students to create revision notes for themselves, and in their preferred learning style.

Moving on to the ‘how’ of learning … a couple of well-tried and tested techniques …

1. Going for Three

Begin each lesson with ‘Tell me Three . . things we learned last lesson; ways we learned last lesson; things we still need to find out; things you hope to achieve today’. End each lesson with ‘Tell me Three . . things we learned today; learning skills we used today; things we need to do next lesson; ways you could become a more effective learner’. The 3 phrases in italics lift this from reflecting on content and introduces reflection on how the content was acquired. Ensure that they tell you three. Do not lapse into doing it for them !

2. Headlines: A useful routine for capturing the key message

This routine draws on the idea of newspaper-type headlines as a vehicle for summing up and capturing the key message of an event, idea, concept, topic, etc. The routine asks one core question:

  • If you were to write a headline for this topic or issue right now that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would that headline be?

Consider following it up with the challenge of writing the first paragraph only of the newspaper article, the one that lays out all of the key information related to the headline. This routine works especially well at the end of a class discussion or session in which students have explored a topic and gathered a fair amount of new information or opinions about it.




Most teachers wait for around 6 months before returning to ELLI’s questionnaire to see how their students have changed in response to understanding more about how they learn, in response to reflective conversations and in response to changes in their teachers’ classroom practices. There may, of course, be other interventions that have been undertaken with individuals. But they too, will want to know whether progress is being made and their efforts have not been in vain.

Nonetheless, the key to tracking change is to keep reminding everyone on a regular basis that how they learn will ultimately improve their performance. ELLI will ultimately tell you all how you are doing ….

Schools have found it helpful to think about tracking changes in learning habits or Learning Power over time … why not put something together for yourself as an agenda?

Lesson by Lesson: Students should be made aware of when they are using their learning dimensions … and also recognise when dimensions are being used by others. Teachers should be so familiar with the 7 dimensions that they can guide students to use the appropriate ne at an appropriate time.

Daily and Week by Week: either asking students to share what they have learned that day that is new to them or even creating a daily diary to record a new piece of information or new experience and then collecting them or sharing them verbally at the end of the day or the end of the week?

Term by Term: review progress with individual students as well as with the group or class as a whole. Maybe create a learning proficiency scheme where students who have grown in their use of a particular dimension become leader of a group of those who have done less well and develop their own learning development scheme for that dimension. They might create projects, use photographs their progress.

Year by Year: once ELLI has become established why not introduce a 360° assessment? You could use blank profiles to get students to draw ELLI profiles of how they see another in their group or a particular friend … maybe even you, as the teacher drawing the profile in a conversation with the individual student.

Transitioning: There are several critical points in a student’s school life and not least when they progress from Primary to Secondary School, move from GCSE to Advanced Level at around 16 or move from school to college at the end of their schooling. At each of these stages the student is under the social and academic pressures associated with entering unfamiliar environments and ways of working. It is then that their Learning Power comes under the greatest pressure

Those schools that have adopted ELLI’s approach to learning to learn are always keen to see how their students cope and have, as frequently as is possible, profiled their Learning Power as they leave one environment and already spent a few months in the new one. The answers have been fascinating and it has been really good to see just how well students cope with change when ELLI has been part of their former lives.


ELLI is dynamic and enables teachers to track student responses to their efforts to change learning habits and behaviours.


 ELLI superimposes the results of a second profile taken after a period of intervention(s) on the original Spidergraphic profile. This enables you, as a teacher, to track the effect of the developmental interventions you have introduced and to demonstrate progress, both to your student and to yourself.