Monday, September 5, 2016

Building a Growth Mindset in 5th Grade Using Multiple Sources

Building a Growth Mindset in 5th Grade Using Multiple Sources

My students had worked on the Growth Mindset philosophy last year, and I wanted to build upon that foundation. I decided that using mixed media and multiple sources would be most interesting for them. I knew I wanted to work up to the Darth Vader and Yoda posters, put together by Nigel Holmes, which are pretty high level texts.

In order to access the ideas from that source, I needed to scaffold up and provide a lot of discussion time.  I started out by putting the text from the two sources into two different word clouds. I thought that they would turn out obviously different, but because the main vocabulary words are so similar in each source,  it was hard for my students to distinguish the differences. The format of the word cloud did catch their interest though, and they were able to have discussions on what words they noticed and what they thought the text would be about.

Next, I showed them the first 5 Class Dojo Growth Mindset videos. They were almost too babyish, but students were able to soak up the concepts quickly, which was the point of using them as a source.

I had students work through this document during the week, and after the videos, I asked them to reflect on what language was sticking with them. Here are some of their responses:

After watching all of the Class Dojo videos, what language are you remembering most?
  • I learned that although you get stuck never give up.
  • I am remembering that they never give up. And they are trying their best. And helping each other.
  • That your brain is like a muscle.
  • I remember that they said I can do it a lot. They also said that your brain is a muscles, and in order to become smarter you have to do challenges to build muscles and work it out.
  • The language i’m remembering most is even though you fail you keep on trying
  • They are trying to teach to not give up and to do anything you want in life.
  • Mistakes are a step to success

After that, based on the video, Austin’s Butterfly,  I modeled how they could help me change from having a fixed mindset to a growth mindset if I was given specific, and supportive feedback.

I started with a very quick and basic butterfly and told them that I didn’t like it, and was going to give up. They discussed what they could say to me so that I would keep trying. I took some of their suggestions and tried again. I spoke my thoughts out loud to them about how it was hard and didn’t feel good, but that I would try to take their suggestions. We repeated that process one more time, and I modeled how successful I felt at the end! Here are some of their suggestions:

Mrs. Hoyt is trying to draw a butterfly, but is having a tough time. What advice do you have for Mrs. Hoyt?
  • Take your time, add more color, add detail to the body, and different designs
  • Use more color. Keep trying
  • My advice for Mrs. Hoyt is to do more designs on the wings, add a face, take more time, antennas, and fix the body.

This was a natural transition into introducing them to The PIT. They thought this was hilarious because we had just discussed wearing deoderant, but they only needed to giggle for a short bit before we could move on. The PIT is the place you go in your mind when something is hard, or feels uncomfortable. Students thought to themselves about some strategies for getting out of The PIT. They recorded them on the doc, and chose their favorite one.

Then, they lined up facing each other and shared their idea with their partner. I told them that the purpose of this sharing was for them to hear ideas from their friends, and share their own with others. I told them that it was important they they listen to their partner as well as share. After each round, I had one of the lines move 2 people down and share again. They got to hear from 5 different people before I had them go back to their seats and add the ideas that they heard to their chart.

Then, I asked them do a quick draw on a sticky note with the one strategy they thought they would use the most. This chart has turned into a resource for any student who is stuck.

Next, I read the book Ish to them. After they got the idea that anything could be done in an “ish” way, they did an ish sketch on a sticky note.

They came up with all kinds of “ish” drawings. The students tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves, so this book sent an appropriate message to them that perfection is not the expectation, but commitment to the process is.

Finally, they were ready for Darth and Yoda. I had our Special Education teacher read over the text with a few students ahead of time. Then, I strategically partnered them up for success in reading. One partner would be Yoda and the other Darth Vader. They needed to read the contents of one row at a time, discuss the differences, and take notes on their understanding. It was interesting to watch them grapple. I told them that working with the text was the goal and that if there was a tough word that they needed to try to figure out the overall meaning of the row with their partner. Some students looked words up, but most just engaged in a lot of reading and discussion.

The final assignment was for them to write a quick summary about what having a Growth Mindset means. Here are a few of their responses.

Having a Growth Mindset to me is to never give up because when you give up you are doubting yourself. When you doubt yourself sometimes you think you are not good enough . If you have a growth mindset when you fall you will get up.  People with a fixed mindset when they fall they can’t  get up and they think because they feel they aren’t good enough.

This is what I think of growth. I think growth mindset means that you can learn something  from your mistakes and get better at it.  Also never giving up. Another thing by learning new stuff this will grow your mind.That is what I think of growth mindset.
I think a growth mindset means to always believe that you can do it. When I read the paragraphs with yoda I noticed that it was all about the things you think might be bad actually help you get better. When Mrs. Hoyt tried to draw a butterfly the first time she had a fixed mindset because she said it was bad. At that moment she was in the pit. When we gave her criticism she took it very well, and drew a butterfly that she liked better. Also when we watched the Class Dojo videos mojo felt the same way when he didn't get the math problems. He eventually tried and tried again and got better. That's what I think a growth mindset means.

It was a week’s worth of work that will set the foundation for the rest of the year.


  1. Great summary of some incredible work. Stopping by from time to time and watching this work in action has been a true joy!

  2. Have you read Rising Strong by Brene Brown? Just curious because I think you might enjoy her discussion on SFDs. It's easy to trap ourselves into a story that makes sense but limits our choices and participation in the situation. Totally makes me think of the PIT and how we might rewrite the story to get out of it.

  3. You totally rock it Ms. Hoyt! You continue to inspire us to be better. Thank you