Tag Archives: Dweck

Mindset Book Study Update

“The judges were biased.”

“The coach just doesn’t like me.”

“My teacher doesn’t challenge me enough.”

Have you heard any of these statements from a child before?  I know I have.  When my daughter told me that her scores were low in a synchronized swimming competition because of the judges, it was very tempting to agree with her.  I knew she was devastated by the numbers, and I wanted to console her by letting her think it wasn’t her fault.

But then I remembered what I learned about a Growth Mindset. And I knew that blaming her scores on the judges would only be implying that she would never have control over her level of achievement in this sport.  Instead of agreeing, I gently prodded her into thinking about what she could have done differently, and how more practice might have helped.  By the end of the conversation, she felt better about the plan we put in place for her to make those scores higher next year.

At the beginning of the summer I mentioned that our school is doing a Parent/Teacher Book Study with Mindset, by Carol Dweck.  I just sent out an update to those participating about Chapters 4 & 5. Chapter 4 is an excellent section about sports, and every parent and teacher should be able to identify.  You can apply its lessons to any area in which one strives to achieve.  The new Smore I sent out to those involved in the book study encourages thought and discussion. It includes a video, song suggestions for young students, and other links.

michael jordan quote

One thing that Dweck mentions in Chapter 5 about businesses is that we are failing future employees and leaders by praising them in the wrong way as children.  By saying things like, “You’re so smart,” we are sending the message that they achieve things because of innate talent instead of hard work and perseverance.  This article by Angela Stockman is a treasure chest of alternative ways to praise – which are more specific and show  that we recognize students who have worked hard to earn their success.

Feel free to take a look at our Smore, and/or add your own comments to the Padlet link that is included.  Also, if you would like more Mindset resources, here is a link to my Pinterest Board for Growth Mindset.

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Growth Mindset Animation

This cute video was recently tweeted by @askteacherzcom.  I think it’s a great video to show anyone, but elementary children will definitely benefit from this brief explanation of the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.  They will understand the story of the Tortoise and the Hare as an example. And I’m pretty sure they will enjoy the Batman reference as well!

from Growth Mindset Animation
from Growth Mindset Animation

To view some other Mindset Videos, click here.  And, if you would like some more resources, check out my Pinterest Board.

Using Origami to Foster a Growth Mindset

origami

Have you ever tried to teach origami to a large group of first graders?  It can be a challenge, to say the least.

Every year, when my 1st graders study Japan, I attempt an origami project.  Every year, I do it differently.  And every year I berate myself for doing it wrong.  No matter how slowly I give instructions or how many times I demonstrate under a document camera, there are several students who end up frustrated while other students grow increasingly bored with the repetitive instructions and having to wait while I help others make a valley fold.

Last year was a little better when I let the students use iPads and sites that showed videos of origami folding so they could work at their own pace.  But many of them immediately chose projects that were too difficult and gave up after finding themselves overwhelmed.

You’re probably shouting all kinds of helpful teacher advice at the computer right now, including, “Give up the origami project, you fool!  It’s not like they need to know that as a real-world skill!”

That is very true.  But perseverance can be a good skill (until it becomes stubbornness).  And learning from mistakes is a good skill.  Being aware of your own ability level and how far you should push yourself is a pretty good skill, too.

As I’ve been learning about the advantages of a growth mindset this year, I’ve been trying to share this with my students.  It’s become part of our daily vocabulary in some of the grade levels, but I haven’t approached it that way with my younger students, yet.  I decided to use the origami lesson to help me do that with my 1st graders. (Here is a great growth mindset chart that you might like to include in your classroom.)

Last week, I asked the 1st graders to think of an activity that was easy, medium, and hard for them.  For each activity, they drew a picture to represent it.  For example, if reading is easy for a student, she might draw a book.  If math is hard, he might draw a multiplication sign.

Then we all made a simple origami rabbit.  I asked them to think about how the activity compared to the ones on their “Levels of Difficulty” sheet.  We talked about how it was easy for one student because he has a lot of experience with origami, and that it was perfectly fine that it was hard for another student because this was her very first time doing origami.  We stapled their projects to their sheets.

This week, I read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain to them (which they loved – perfect level for them!).  We related it to the origami experience and discussed how important it is to stretch your brain, and not just stick to the things that are easy for us.

Then I gave them some origami sites, and they worked in partners to do whatever project they chose.  I reminded them that if they should choose a project based on their experience.

“If you’ve done lots of origami before, should you pick an easy one?”

“NO!”

“If you’ve never done it before last week, should you pick a hard one?”

“NO!”

I told them that I was not going to help them, that they would need to figure it out on their own, unless they needed help with a word.

I let them go, and held my breath.

“This one is too hard,” one of the students said after a few minutes.

“Let’s keep trying,” his partner said.  “I think we can do this.”  They unfolded and re-folded several times.  After 10 minutes, they did it.  They were so proud!

A student working by himself nearly did cartwheels around the room once he figured out his project.

Similar stories played out all around the room.  There were some sighs of frustration, but no giving up and no tears.  I was able to walk from table to table, giving encouragement, praising perseverance instead of frantically trying to get everyone to the same place.

At the end of class, the students couldn’t believe time had passed so quickly.  There was a unanimous vote to continue working on origami next class.

In a way, I felt like I’d just completed my own origami project. It only took me about 5 years to finally get it right.

Origami Elephant created by Sipho Mabona, picture from My Modern Met
Origami Elephant created by Sipho Mabona, picture from My Modern Met