Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Let's Help Our Brains Grow!

Have you ever had one of those days where the students are about to walk into school to start the day and you completely change your lesson plans?  Today was one of those days......
Today was the fifth day of school.  Being the planner that I am, I completed my weekly lesson plans last week and was all prepared for the day.  At least, I thought I was prepared.  While driving into work, I thought to myself that I need to do something fast about changing some of my students' mindsets.....

Yesterday, the students and I discussed our interests and I had my students complete a Reading Interest Survey.  This survey was going to give me insight into their reading habits, what they like and don't like to read.  I took the surveys home Monday night and after reading through them, I felt sad.  Unfortunately, it was getting late and my three year old was not sleeping, so I had to set the surveys aside.  But once I woke up, I couldn't stop thinking about the surveys and the lack of interest my new third graders have for reading.  In fact, some of them stated that they hate reading, they can't read, and don't want to read. their reading teacher, this broke my heart.

So, while sitting in traffic this morning, I realized something must change.  I want to get them to change their mindset about reading (plus develop the habit of changing their mindset).  I know that I can't make every student love reading.  We all have different interests, but I at least I want my students to change their mindset and be open to reading.  

Well, at 7:30 am (40 minutes before going outside for morning duty) I decided to completely change my lesson plans.  Everything I had written down and prepared for the day was a waste.  I wanted my reading class today to be geared toward growth vs. fixed mindset (I ended up using the terms open vs. closed mindset with my third graders).  Quickly, I jumped on Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and google.  I found some amazing ideas.  

Pinterest lead me to an excellent Growth vs. Fixed Mindset post by Judy from It's Raining Resources!  Judy talked about the same struggles I am having right now with my third graders.  Her post also lead me to an AMAZING and interactive  PowerPoint presentation created by Eve Coates on Teachers Pay Teachers.    It is a MUST buy!  My students loved it!  BUT--before I showed the PowerPoint, I displayed a pretty challenging riddle on the board.  I told the students there was no talking, no asking questions, no sounds.  They must figure out the riddle within three minutes.  I tried everything in my power to keep a straight face.  Some of my students looked scared....upset....challenged...and some just put their pencils down and didn't even attempt to try and solve it.  (btw way, I quickly found this riddle online year, I think I would do something different:  "What is something that happens once a minute, twice a week, and once a year?").  After the three minutes, I asked the students how they felt.  Most of their reactions were just as I thought they would be....."I give up."  

So, this lead me into the PowerPoint.  It really helped them see that you are not born smart.  You become smart by doing challenging things.  It also showed that harder things can actually be more fun!  Plus making mistakes is good because they help us learn and grow.  

It's Raining Resources!
After the PowerPoint, I took Judy's idea from It's Raining Resources! and made an anchor chart with the students.  The chart was a great way for students to hear what a closed and open mindset sounds like.   I had chart paper on the board with the pictures to represent open vs. closed.  The picture below is from Judy's post.  Creating the anchor chart lead to so many great discussions with my students.

Next, I pulled out one of my favorite picture books, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  If you don't have this book, you need to buy it.  I love  LOVE this book.  This is a perfect example of what it looks like to change your mindset.  The unnamed girl in this book wants to make the most magnificent thing, but she keeps failing repeatedly.  Eventually, the girl gets so mad and quits.  With the help of her furry best friend, the little girl ends up changing her mindset and is successful in the end.  Such a great book to end the class period.
Don't anchor chart would have been prettier if I planned further in advance! :)

Phew....I loved this day.  It started off rocky because I felt like I was running around with my head cut off at 7:30 this morning.  But once I had a plan and started teaching, it went great.  I left the building today thinking that my students truly understood the difference between an open and closed mindset.  I am still going to revisit, reteach, and add to my lesson today.  But I can definitely say that  I think I will sleep great tonight!!

Tell me about your growth vs. fixed mindset ideas!!!!!


  1. I love this post because this is something that I really do want to try to work towards. Creating a Culture of Thinking is the book that I think will help me get there...once I finish reading it! What an important skill. I am so glad you took the time to work towards this.

  2. I discovered THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING last year, and used it to launch a creative STEM lesson on building pom-pom launchers with a partner! My second graders loved it! I am going to use it this year to follow your lesson model for positive mindset! Thank you for this inspiring post!
    Stories and Songs in Second

  3. Interested in using your ideas to change the mindset of my special needs students! Thanks for sharing your journey.