Activities You Can Do In Your Classroom to Build Growth Mindset
Note: The activities in the workshop can be modified so students can engage is similar learning tasks. Below are additional activities that teachers can use to foster a growth mindset classroom.
Students are asked to draw what they know about what the brain looks like and list what they know about the brain (Ricci, 2013). This information will help teachers design a meaningful lesson discussing the elasticity of the brain when learning new concept.
Jo Boaler's online course How to Learn Math: For Students can provide a foundation for introducing students to growth mindset. Each lesson has a series of informative podcasts and questions that explore key issues in mathematical education; issues such as myths about mathematics, how the brain functions and adapts when making mistakes and the impact praise and feedback has on learning. To access this free course go to Stanford Online Lagunita and register for the course, How to Learn Math: For Students.
This read aloud can complement the lesson entitled Brain Growth to build student capacity regarding the function of the brain during learning.
This book explores the idea that mistakes can create new and wonderful learning opportunities, complementing the Mistakes: New Evidence video.
The Most Magnificent Thing promotes growth mindset approaches to challenges. The main character learns to be persistent and motiviated to reach her goal, supporting the video Mindset.
This is a great video for promoting the idea that children can learn anything if they try. The video explains that everyone is born with the potential to learn. We start at zero and then we learn to walk and talk. The key idea in learning something new is that nobody is good at first. We need to struggle, become frustrated and fail, but "failing is just another word for growing."
This video provides a great segue for the activity using ropes to represent the development of neural connections.
On-line Stanford Course Explores How Growth Mindset and Math are Connected
You Can Learn Anything
The brain begins to recount the initial steps to learning the new task he or she has chosen to share, talking about feelings during the learning process and any failures or setbacks that happened at the beginning.
The neurons will hold a thin rope to represent a weak connection as new ideas are just being explored.
The brain now recounts the next steps in learning the new task talking about feelings during the learning process and any failures or successes that happened in the middle.
The neurons will now hold a thicker piece of rope to represent that through practice and correcting mistakes the neural connections have become thicker.
The brain finally recounts the last steps to learning the new task, talking about feelings during the process and any challenges that happened near the end.
The neurons will hold the thickest piece of rope to demonstrate that the connections are very strong.
Growing Thicker Neural Connections
Creating an Inspirational Video
Creating an iMovie to communicate their understanding of growth mindset. Students can engage in inquiry to discover the answer to key questions:
What do people with a growth and a fixed mindset believe about intelligence?
How do people with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset feel when they make mistakes?
How do people with a fixed mindset and a growth respond to feedback?
How does the brain learn?
Using classroom anchor charts, pictures from the Internet and work samples students can clearly communicate ideas. The videos can be created for their parents, learning buddies, or for a school assembly to share their understanding of growth mindset and how it impacts their learning experiences and motivation for engaging in mathematical problem solving.
Creating a Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset Poster
Honoring an inquiry learning approach, have students create posters to represent their understanding of growth mindset and fixed mindset (Khan Academy, n.d.). This activity would be beneficial after the students have been introduced to the ideas in the videos designed by Jo Boaler in her on-line course.
Have students showcase the posters once completed and provide an opportunity for students to walk around and look at their peers thinking (gallery walk). Older students could provide feedback about the posters using post-it notes as an extension.
Reconvene as a whole group and co-construct a classroom anchor chart using the ideas from the posters. This will be an anchor chart students and the teacher can refer to when support is needed to maintain a growth mindset during challenging learning tasks.
It is important for students to visualize how practicing and struggling to learn a new concept creates stronger neural connections. Using different thicknesses of rope, students will be able to visualize how new ideas create weak neural connections, but with more practice the connections get thicker and stronger. This activity requires three student volunteers.
The first volunteer will be the brain that will remember a time when a new task was difficult to learn but is now easy and automatic.
The other two volunteers will be the neurons that make connections as the brain grows.