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Welcome to my math blog! The purpose of this blog is to help you stay informed about our learning and experiences that have taken place during our math class. I have also included links your child (and you) may want to use in order to supplement math learning in 5th grade.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Structure Struggle: Mindset Lesson

So, the first three days of school were all about challenges, team building, and struggle.  I think of all of the activities, this way my favorite!  I love to give students true challenges and this was one!  I originally found the activity on the Teaching in Room 6 blog.   She used this activity to teach a growth mindset.  You can find the activity on the  Class Creator Blog.  It was titled "Teaching Kids to Struggle."

Basically, I followed the instructions from "Teaching Kids to Struggle" for creating a structure made from a single sheet of paper.  The challenge was for the kids to recreate the structure using the same size paper I did and a pair of scissors.  Before allowing students to begin, I asked them to work with their table group to come up with a plan.  I also asked them to review our Secret to Success poster to ensure success as a team.

I gave the classes 10 minutes.  As they worked, I roamed the room writing down things I was hearing as they worked.  Typically, the overwhelming thought at the beginning was that this was going to be easy.  That changed fairly quickly!  Students who just started cutting their paper without a real plan became frustrated that they couldn't try again and instead of working with someone at the table who still had their paper, they would just sit and shred the paper with scissors.  Others would just throw down the scissors and cross their arms.  I began hearing things like:

  • This is impossible!
  • How did she do this?
  • This is bologna!
  • She must be a rocket scientist.
  • I don't get it!
After the timer went off, I started debriefing my students by asking questions about how they felt during the challenge.  I mainly focused on the changing emotions from the first minute of the challenge to the last minute.  They all agreed they went from "this is easy" to a very frustrated "this in impossible!"  I then read through the statements they had made during the challenge and explained that these were all statements of a "fixed mindset."

Before explaining this in much detail.  I asked the kids to answer a few questions pertaining to "What Does it Mean to be Smart?"  This activity came from a growth mindset pack found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Basically, the kids were asked to answer "true" or "false" to 15 different statements.  Before going over the activity, I had them watch a growth mindset video put out by Khan Academy emphasizing that anyone can learn and to write down the idea they thought was most important from the video.

Once we had shared our thoughts about the video, I revisited the "quiz".  I did not go over them as though there was a right or wrong answer.  Instead, I had them write an "f" for fixed or "g" for growth.  I wanted them to begin seeing the difference between the two mindsets and understand that they have the power to choose which mindset they will follow.

To encourage them to choose having a growth mindset, I used an activity from Runde's Room called "Stick-It Together:  A Collaborative Growth Mindset Activity."  In this activity, students work with their group to change a fixed mindset idea into a growth mindset option.  Once students had completed the activity, each group shared out their growth mindset answers.  To finish off the day, I had them complete a final "stick-it together" that summarized our learning for the day.

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