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Day 91: Mathematical Mindsets

As part of my instructional coaching duties, I offer various PLC’s throughout the year.  I am really excited about this one: Mathematical Mindsets based on Jo Boaler’s new book.  I read Carol Dweck’s Mindsets book this summer (and did a book study with a colleague) where I wanted to try to incorporate some of the principles in my classes.  However, I found it challenging at times to find the right venue to share, re-enforce and deepen students understanding of their mindsets.  Also, I was struggling with using the vocabulary and verbiage that supports a growth mindset.


Along came Jo Boaler’s book that specifically talks about the mindset aspects in mathematics.  One idea I found particularily interesting is compression, which basically says that people can compress conceptual ideas after a bit of intellectual struggling with them, whereas procedural methods are simply not compressible.  you can make room in your brain by connecting concepts but process and memorization doeesn’t necessarily link to compress.  More about that idea later.


If you get a chance, I think this book is a must read for mathematics teachers (especially secondary teachers) because we often forget (or don’t recognize) how important it is to teach and value all of the ways a student can approach a problem.

Day 3: Mindset Questionnaire

Mindset bookI had a long time reading list for this summer and I’m proud to say that I got many of those books read!  A colleague of mine here at school and I read Carrol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success together. Basically we did a mini book club and we had some great discussions afterwards. I even got a chance to practice my do little note taking (but that’s for another post later this year).

20150910_172906 evOne of the things we wanted to do at the beginning of the year was tried to assess where our kids were on the mindset scale. We found a great questionnaire on, that we of course tweaked a little bit. What was nice about this questionnaire is it is heavily based on math attitudes and it also had a rating scale!  Score!!  Check out the site because there are a lot of other really useful materials.

So anyway today, I gave the questionnaire two my PRECALCULUS classes and then they used grade can too quickly scan their results. It worked like a charm! And my students were quite impressed with getting results so quickly. Something to be said for immediate feedback. Below is a picture of the screen as I was standing one of the students questionnaires. The second screen shot is an item analysis of student responses to each of the questions. The green bar is the answer with the highest growth mindset rating.The bar immediately to the left or the right is also a positive growth mindset response although not as strong.  Although I have not finished analyzing where my students’ average mindset lands on this scale, it is quite interesting to look at the data.

GradeCam GradeCam2

Tomorrow, I will have my students find their overall mindset score using the weighting scale for each question.  Then we will create a dot plot of the results. That will give me a clearer picture of where the class lies on the mindset scale. I hope to use this information to help kids move more words eight growth mindset in their mathematical studies.

How have you used the idea of growth mindset to help your students take risks and persevere in their learning? What activities have been successful for you?

Day -9 …YET…the Growth Mindset

I’ve been participating in a “Leading Groups of Adult – Designing for Learning and Collaboration” workshop presented by Margaret Nugent and Marcy Yoshida the last two days and looooving it!  Although I am interested in the adult aspect for sure, I gained so many useful ideas for my kiddos as well.  In particular, I was reminded of the “not yet” attitude of the growth mindset (versus the Fixed mindset) prevalent in Carol Dweck‘s work Mindset: The New Psycology of Success.  I first heard this powerful, 3-letter word YET in a Complex Instruction workshop but have used it sporadically over the last few years.  This year I’m committed to purposefully using …YET at the end of “fixed mindset” statements of student to help them move to a growth mindset idea (I’ll have a poster in the room that says …YET to help remind students to adopt that attitude as well).

Many of my students are reluctant to take a risk, see mistakes as bad rather than opportunities to learn  and believe that if they don’t get an idea in the first 10 seconds that it is presented, then they have failed and will never get it.  I want to change that attitude!!  The word FAIL is a 4-letter word for them rather than recognizing that a fail can mean their ” First Attempt In Learning.”  I’ve determined the growth mindset as a theme for this year and Ryan Thomas’ blog post “9 Ways Students Can Develop a Growth Mindset”  gave me some great ideas to use with my students (photo from his site)…thanks Ryan!

Growth Mind Set

I also want to help students (not just mine but perhaps any student at our school) move their thinking toward a growth mindset in a visual, non-preachy way (you know how high school students can be when you wander down the preachy road…eye rolling, glazed eyes, blank stares, etc.).  I was inspired by a twitter thread last week started by Kate @fourkatie.  It led me back to Sarah Hagan’s Math=Love blog and her post “Growth Mindset and SBG Bulletin Board Downloads” (just adore her ideas and willingness to share).  She already did the “hard lifting” by creating the statements and sharing!!  Basically, I made a variation of Sarah’s board for my board outside my classroom….what do you think?


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