Like I said in a previous post, I believe that a growth mindset should be encouraged in all of our students and we can continually reinforce it through praising the right things and through the language we use.
In Year 4, we’re lucky enough to have a whole unit of inquiry dedicated to the brain and how we learn. This unit reached new heights this year with the inclusion of mindsets.
I found this idea for introducing students to the idea of fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. It would be most ideal for the ‘tuning in’ part of the inquiry cycle. This idea is by Tim Bowman and it was shared on Twitter by Ross Dawson. Please find the original blog post here. You’ll need to read it for more detailed instructions, but basically, it’s about creating a complex paper structure and asking the students to recreate it. It is fantastic for capturing their attitudes towards struggle. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I do want to share how it worked in my class.
As the students came back from music class, they noticed the paper structures on their desks. This immediately hooked their attention and they were fascinated by how these structures could be made. The students inevitably struggled to create their own and the task was to monitor their attitudes and language throughout that struggle. Photos and videos are great for this, especially if you can capture the moment without being noticed. These moments were shared afterwards and they were hilarious! I wish that I could share them here. The photos/videos show a brilliant mix of facial expressions including wonder, concentration and frustration.
The language is the most important part. Here is a small sample of some of my students’ quotes:
“Let’s just give up!”
“I think we’re almost there!”
“I have a new idea.”
“We need to keep trying.”
“We can do it!”
“I want to keep trying at home.”
“There’s no point trying!”
These quotes, along with many other nameless quotes, were shared in a discussion afterwards in the same way as the original blog post suggests. The task prompted a really interesting discussion about how we all face challenges and how we need to persevere with a positive attitude and believe that we can improve.
I do not believe that children develop the perfect growth mindset after one learning engagement, but I do believe that this is an excellent activity for raising their awareness and introducing the growth mindset/fixed mindset language and ideas. It paved the way for lots more learning on this topic.