Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 10

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 10 is the Summary.

Adopting the Components
You need:
Educators that Believe.
Students that Understand
(neural connections).
Classrooms that Differentiate.
Opportunities for Critical Thinking.
Focus on Potential.

If you would like a video to show your students here is a short animation to explain the difference between growth and fixed mindsets.

Mary's Story
Mary Cay Ricci herself had a fixed mindset when someone suggested to her that she write a book. She even said "I could never write a book!" With her hard work, effort and perseverance, she succeeded, just like our students can too!

Next up:
Wrap up on June 28th
My in final post I'll write about Appendix A and Appendix B which will include a sample training plan for staff growth mindset professional development and parent newsletter blurbs.

 Hello Sunshine!

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 9

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 9 is about different Ways School Staff Can Maintain a Growth Mindset School Culture. Although there is not very many pages in this chapter, what I read made me really excited! I thought to myself, this IS possible! My school CAN do this!

Reinforcing the Growth Mindset Message
*Embed specific plans to maintain a growth mindset school culture in your yearly School Improvement Plan (SIP).
*Dedicate the first 15 minutes of each staff meeting for discussing your school's growth mindset culture.
*Learning environment should be a fear-free zone.
*Teacher's language should acknowledge what students do rather than who they are.

My favorite part of this chapter is the page with a picture of a school staff that is very committed to building a growth mindset school culture. In the picture all staff members are wearing a growth mindset culture t-shirt. My student's parents see me before school and after school. What a wonderful message to not only communicate with parents but to proudly wear!

"Look Fors"
Each school should brainstorm what Ricci calls "Look Fors" or evidence that demonstrates a growth mindset school and class culture. The areas that should be brainstormed for are:
1. Ongoing Assessment
2. Flexible/Fluid Grouping Practices
3. Curriculum Compacting
4. Expectations
5. Questioning
6. Higher Level Thinking
7. Acceleration and Enrichment
8. Classroom Environment

Next up:
Chapter 10
 Hello Sunshine!

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 8

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 8 is about different Ways to Help Students Adopt a Growth Mindset?

I teach kindergarten so it is important to me that my students can understand the activities that Ricci recommended. First step to help my 5 year olds (with a few older 4 year olds) is to "preview". The teacher can point to her head and ask:
"Who knows what is in here?"
This question is simple enough for my students!
"What do we use our brain for?"
Another simple question!

Then comes the preassessment. Ricci provides a copy of a blank preassessment (please see below for a link to a FREEBIE that includes a similar preassessment) as well as some completed examples. This preassessment is perfect for my kinder kids because they love to draw. The sheet has a side view of the outline of a head. Students draw what they think the brain looks like inside. Teachers then analyze the drawing to determine their knowledge of the brain. 

Sample Learning Tasks
Ricci describes 5 learning tasks. The one that stood out to me and I plan on trying with my kinders is #2 Building a Neural Network. With this task you use thread (for new learning) and yarn (for a deeper understanding). This interactive activity is so visual that I believe my kinders will understand more of what happens when we learn something new.

Growth Mindset Reminders
You can find some ready to print inspiration quotes to put up around the classroom or school here:

Next up:
Chapter 9
What Are Some Ways School Staff Can Maintain a Growth Mindset School Culture?
 Hello Sunshine!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 7

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Chapter 7 is about whether or not gifted education and a growth mindset belief can coexist. This was an interesting chapter for me because my daughter has been in our district's gifted program since she was in kindergarten and now she is going to 7th grade. Our district calls it SUN or Serving Unique Needs. Below are some of my favorite quotes for the book.

The Gifted Label
Ricci advises the reader to think about our use with the word "gifted". She recommends using "high-potential learners" or "highly motivated".

Early Ability Grouping
Ricci believes that there can be negative messages sent to students that are placed in gifted classes. As I mentioned before my daughter has been in the SUN program since kindergarten. From K to 2nd I didn't see anything negative in her attitude about being in the SUN program. When she got to 3rd grade I began to see over confidence in her. She didn't take suggestions well and she believed that she knew it all. The most disappointing change was that she would and still does tell her little brother that she is smarter than him. After reading this chapter I began telling her that if her brother is motivated he too can accomplish great things in school. Unfortunately she doesn't believe me. This is a message I have always told her but not in those words. This chapter has helped me better understand gifted labels.

Philosophy for Gifted Education
Next up:
Chapter 8
What Are Some Ways to Help Students Adopt a Growth Mindset?
I can tell this will be a chapter with lots of highlighting going on!

 Hello Sunshine!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mindsets Book Study - Chapter 6

Welcome Friends!
Once again I'm linking up with the Hello Sunshine teacher's blog for their book study on Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Her book is a wonderful read with each chapter guiding anyone who reads it to a growth mindset school culture. Chapter 6 helps inform of the messages to parents and even how parents can communicate with teachers!

Here is a list of essential concepts to share with parents:
1. Information on growth and fixed mindsets
2. Encouraging resilience
3. Basic brain operations
4. Ways to praise their children.

Way to share essential concepts:
1. School website
2. School social network sites
3. Newsletter blurbs
4. Principal coffee hours 
5. Parent information evening

Suggestions for building resilience:
1. Use growth mindset praise
2. Model flexibility
3. Adopt a "glass half-full mentality in the home
4. Help children find their own niche

Next up:
Chapter 7
Can Gifted Education and a Growth Mindset Belief Co-exist?
Can't wait to find out!

 Hello Sunshine!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mindset Book Study - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 How Can Students Learn from Failure?
This is the book study for Mary Cay Ricci's Mindsets in the Classroom. Failure. To many it sounds like a bad thing, right? Actually it is not! Sound odd? Take a look at the video below. The first page of the chapter describes this scene from Disney's Meet the Robinsons. It is a great way to react to our student's failures.
A message like this will help our students not dwell on their "failures" but rather try harder next time which also means they don't give up! This along with learning about the brain and how the brain works will help our students deal with "failure" in a positive way. I had an "A ha" moment when I read the line in the book where Ricci said "It is imperative that teachers develop a climate in their classroom where failure is celebrated and students learn to reflect and redirect so that they can approach a challenging task in a new way or with more effort." I've never celebrated failure but this year I will!

Unfortunately I'm going to have to revisit my classroom's Treasure Box. Why? To get my kinder kids to do many things I use extrinsic rewards quite often. Extrinsic rewards, as defined in the book, is outside incentives provided to a person by another individual or source, such as money, certificates, or prizes. My Treasure Box if full of old McDonald's toys. I started collecting them when my kids (now 11 and 9) would play with them for a little while and then not touch them again. I collected many and they now wait in the box for my kinder kids who earn Table Points all week long. My students are not motivated to clean up or help each other because this is what they are supposed to do but because they want win a prize. Very wrong! Students should have personal satisfaction when they accomplish something, also known as a intrinsic reward.

Changing How Students React to Failure
I really love the quote at the end of this chapter from Michael Jordan:
Many people know Michael Jordan as a basketball great but we don't know all the disappointments that he experienced along the way. He never gave up! He kept trying! This is the message I am going to take back to the classroom.

Don't forget to link up with the Hello Sunshine teacher blog to follow this book study!
Hello Sunshine!
Next up  is Chapter 6: What Messages Should Parents Hear About Growth Mindset?
It starts June 16th.
Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

MIndsets Book Study - Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Why is Critical Thinking Important in a Growth Mindset Class Culture?
A book study of Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci.

There are three types of critical thinking
1. Reasoning
2. Making judgements/decisions
3. Problem solving

Here are some Highlights and Take It and Use Its from Chapter 4.
Critical Thinking Growth Mindset Project
Ricci wanted to test her theories on cognitive abilities and critical thinking experiences so she created this project. It included six Title 1 schools with 53 classrooms of 2nd and 3rd grade students which included critical thinking professional development for teachers. 
Ricci describes a conversation she had with two ESOL students after playing ThinkFun's Rush Hour game. In response to Ricci's question 
"What makes you think that you can do it?" (play the game) 
A student responds:
"Because when I try, I know I am getting smarter by making connections and the new connections will help me do it!'

Here is a video of how to play the Rush Hour game.
This demonstrates the critical thinking involved in the game. Many teachers from the project reported that they felt that student perseverance increased with a combination of the ThinkFun games (like the one above) and growth mindset discussions!

Don't forget to link up with the Hello Sunshine teachers blog to be a part of this book study!
Hello Sunshine!
Chapter 5 is called How Can Students Learn from Failure?
Hope to see you there!