If you dig the growth mindset and Jo Boaler’s course, this post is for you. Here are a few activities to get students thinking about their mindset. The ideas are derived from Carol Dweck’s work which is referenced extensively in Jo Boaler’s course How to Learn Math. With more than 20,000 enrolled chances are you are taking the course with me, but I thought it would be helpful to share a few activities on mindset and attribution retraining—a fancy phrase for how to move students from a fixed to growth mindset.
Since 2011, the district I work in has offered a graduate level course called The Skillful Teacher. I’ve taken the class and I’m finding strong similarities between the two courses with respect to mindset and feedback. The Skillful Teacher required extensive “homework” so that’s given me an opportunity to share a few activities that you can use, abuse, or refuse.
By the way, Algebra’s Friend has written a fine overview of Session 1 on Boaler’s course. I would appreciate everyone who’s taking the course to chime in there and here so we can learn even more.
Activity #1 Mindset Quiz
The card sort activity introduces students to growth and fixed mindsets. Cut the statements into strips. Mix them up for students to sort into two categories.
Activity #3 Attribution Theory
“The basic principle of attribution theory as it applies to motivation is that a person’s own perceptions or attributions for success or failure determine the amount of effort the person will expend on that activity in the future.”– via
Using a T-chart, students will brainstorm what makes a successful and unsuccessful student. From the list the teacher will frame the rest of the period doing 4 corners—asking who thinks success is due to effort; who thinks success is due to luck, who thinks success is due to ability, who thinks success is due to how easy or hard the task was.
Assign a Think-Pair-Share activity to create situations where only effort was needed to complete the task, only luck, only ability, only the difficulty of the task at hand. Students share scenarios and agree or disagree using a human continuum.
This handout is a related activity. Note: it doesn’t get into stable or unstable causes of success or failure.
Activity #4 You Can Grow Your Own Intelligence
Activity #5 Math Attitude Scale
To be honest I haven’t used this. It is something I stumbled upon a couple of years ago. The intent was to give it to students and score it using Mastery Manager.
If you have resources to share I would love to hear about them.