As my history will indicate, I've taken a Blog break to try new things. In part, many students have told me that blogging is "old news" and from a mathematics perspective, it is difficult (or was) to write using mathematical language, hence my move towards .pdf Microsoft (Math version) and Google Docs.
Alas, the focus this year for me is both Growth Mindset and effective communication use via Twitter and Google Docs. Earlier this year, I organized a Book Club for the math department using Dr. Jo Boaler's "Mathematical Mindsets". The book club was a great way to force myself to read the entire book (something I wish I had more time to do) in a timely manner while also hearing my fellow colleagues' perspectives on the matter. Every teacher had a chapter to read and summarize for us at a local restaurant.
Naturally, it is a progressive evolution but I've been very successful in getting kids to change their language towards math, difficult problems and even homework (all in the name of personal growth). Less and less students say that they "can't do math". More and more students are saying, "That was challenging! I learned something today." Imagine if this mindset were applied to all subjects. How often would you hear people say, "I can't speak French", "I can't play sports"? Growth mindset makes "can't" an insult to oneself. With growth mindsets you'd here a lot more, "I'm proud of myself, I tried ... ". This is how I felt when I was in Germany this summer when I was saying: "Guten Tag. Mein Deutsche ist kein gut aber ..." My German wasn't perfect, but I was succeeding in getting what I wanted and being understood. It was hard, but so very rewarding.
My next steps in Growth Mindset is to re-evaluate Dr. Jo Boaler's Growth Mindset advice on Assessment and Evaluation such that it is both advantageous to both students and teachers. Furthermore, it is to assist those who remain in a "Fixed Mindset". A respected colleague of mine recently sent me the following link from a Growth Mindset Newsletter which deals with that very matter:
In this article, it explains why some people are hesitant to accept that they "can" change. The article highlights four main reasons:
1. "They don't know they can"
2. "They don't know how"
3. "They don't want to."
4. "They don't know they are worth it."
Another major change that I've been experimenting with tremendous success is NPVL (Non-Permanent Vertical Learning). This style of learning is really taking off and those who follow my Twitter account will often see student work on walls, windows or desks. The conversations and "lack of fear" of expressing their hypothesis is impressive ... so much so that I think I'm starting to see synapses à la Matrix.
As a final statement, I continue to preach that where there is a will, there is a way. When students complain that they have to memorize all the countries of the world, I say "sporcle it". When students have to memorize the elements of the periodic table, I say "sporcle it". It's my way of saying, when I want to learn something new, I just play sporcle. Yes play. No matter what the subject, I play quizzes to enhance my general knowledge. I want my students to have growth mindset so it is important for me to demonstrate that I too, have a growth mindset. Sporcle is an online quiz game that tests your knowledge on any subject you can imagine. What quiz will you give yourself today?
If you're still not convinced that you can do math, then maybe you're not doing the right kind of math that you find inspiring ... here are a few links to get you going:
Warning: these are addictive. Enjoy responsibly. An unlearned day, is a wasted day.