January 29

Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5- How Can Students Learn From Failure?

Failure- such a scary and negative word. To me, failure has always been a glaring demon that rears its ugly head every time I have difficulties at home with my children or my husband. I have never looked at failure as a positive, at least not until having worked through this book. As I mentioned in my “Happy New Year” post, this is an area that has been a huge struggle for me, and it is an area that I am determined to change. Failure should be looked at as an opportunity to learn, to grow and to use those critical thinking skills. It will take a lot of self-talk during those difficult times when I want to think of myself as a failure.

In the classroom, the difficult task will be to teach the students about the benefits of failure. The book suggests that the best way to do this is to teach the students about the brain. There are many videos on YouTube that can help teach about mindsets and the brain.

Here are a couple that I have showed to my classroom:

I also had the students do some research on the brain so that they understood more about the parts to the brain, what neurons do and any fun facts they found that were interesting to them.

Another topic that is brought up in this chapter is that of rewarding students. As someone who has used a lot of extrinsic rewards to motivate my students in my learning assistance blocks, I have a lot to learn in how to use more intrinsic rewards.

1. What is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards? Give examples of different way you use to motivate your students. Ar they intrinsic or extrinsic?

2. How will you teach your students about the benefits of failure?


Chapter 6- What Messages Should Parents Hear About Growth Mindset?

Everyone knows that parents play a key role in the lives and education of their children and should of course be informed about their learning. It is also very important that they be involved in the education of growth mindset. What a child hears at home can make or break their learning at school. If parents are continually supporting a fixed mindset while the child is at home, it will be very difficult for a growth mindset to sink in.

I have yet to inform my parents about the students’ learning about the growth mindset. I am not sure how to do this effectively. I do know that the students have been talking about the brain while they are at home, but we have not gone much further than that. There is a newsletter blurb example in the appendix of the book to teach/talk to parents about the growth mindset. I am not sure that this would be enough. I also thought that it would be great to have an open house night where the students could teach their parents about the growth mindset. I have also thought that Student-led conferences might be the best time. This is still an uncertain area for me. I am hopeful that I will get a better idea in the very near future.

1. How will you inform and teach parents about growth mindset?

2. What messages should parents hear about growth mindset?

January 22

Chapters 3 and 4

Chapter 3- Differentiated, Responsive Classrooms and Growth Mindset

This is an excellent chapter on how to differentiate in the classroom. It is complete with a quick guide as to how to differentiate, as well as including ideas on how to assess learning to guide teaching.

As a new classroom teacher (I am usually a full time Learning Assistance/ Resource Teacher, but this year I have been teaching .5 in a Grade 5 classroom as well as .5 LART), this chapter has been an excellent support. It goes right along with the Redesigned Curriculum. I have been working very hard to create a differentiated classroom. I feel that this is an ongoing difficulty for me, one that I am going to continue to struggle through as I am sure it will only get easier. I feel that I am doing well with the pre-assessment, getting an understanding of what the students already know about a topic. I feel that I am also getting better with the formative assessments, ensuring that I include exit slips, 3-2-1s and lots of oral questioning at the end of the lessons. It is the flexible groupings, advancement and enrichment that I am struggling with including. I feel like I am more of a lecturer or at least a full group lesson.

1. How does a teacher’s mindset about a student’s learning ability directly connect to the responsiveness and effectiveness of instruction?

2. How do you find differentiating your classrooms? Which practices are you currently using? Which ones are hit and miss?

3. Do you have any tips or tricks you can share for “Differentiation Newbies” to make differentiation more manageable?

Chapter 4- Why is Critical Thinking Important in a Growth Mindset Classroom?

According to Chapter 4, there are three different types of critical thinking: reasoning, making judgments/decisions and problem solving. We need to make sure that students have opportunities to practice all of these areas on a daily basis. The Redesigned Curriculum supports this through project-based learning.

One way that I am including critical thinking into my students’ programming is through the use of STEM projects. It is incredible to see the growth of their critical thinking skills over the course of the year. Unfortunately, this is really the only time I have been including the aspect of critical thinking. During the second half of the year, I hope to include more project-based learning than I have thus far. Since we have been working on perimeter and area, I plan to have the Grade 5s work on a project that I found on Pinterest- creating a Taco Food Truck, fully equipped with a menu, food and, of course, the truck (or at least a scale model of the truck).

1. Based on the ideas from this chapter, why do you believe that critical thinking is important to a growth mindset classroom?

2. How have you incorporated (or plan to incorporate) critical thinking activities into your classrooms? 

3. Compare and contrast your definition of critical thinking with the one presented in the book on pages 55-56.


Next week we will take a look at Chapters 5 and 6.


January 16

Chapters 1 and 2

In the first chapter, Mary Cay Ricci discusses how mindsets affect the classroom (hence the name of the chapter!).  It really sets up the book.

  1. Was there anything that really stood out to you in this first chapter?


Chapter 2 is where, I believe, the real meat of the book begins. It discusses how to build a school culture that supports a growth mindset. Administrators would be best suited to this chapter. I would like to bring this book to my current administrators with the hopes that they get on board and bring it on to the staff as a whole. I have touched base with a few of my fellow teachers, but I really think it needs to be a whole school initiative.

  1. In what areas, personal or professional, do you have a fixed mindset? Why?
  2. In what areas, personal or professional, do you have a growth mindset? Why?
  3. If you were given appropriate instruction and you had the time, persistence, and motivation, at what would you become better?


  1. Would you be willing to bring this to your administrator as a possibility for a whole-school initiative? What do you believe the response would be? 


Next week, we will look at Chapters 3 and 4. Thank you in advance for your comments and responses to the different questions. Please note that you do not have to answer all of the questions. Answer the questions that speak to you, or simply give your thoughts, ideas or any other information you would like to include. This is your learning opportunity, so make it what you want 🙂

January 1

Happy New Year!

I would just like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

As I go in to 2017 and think about all the New Year’s Resolution possibilities, I wonder what I should focus on this year. There are the usual suspects- lose weight, get in shape, eat healthy, stop smoking, stop drinking, and so on, but many of these do not apply to me- I don’t smoke or drink, I think I eat pretty healthily and I feel as though I am a healthy weight and in shape, although we could all use exercise. A few things do come to mind though. One being learning better parenting skills so that I can better support my boys in their growth and development. Another, developing more of a growth mindset in all areas of my life. A third possibility would be to be a more attentive wife and mother. An finally, a better classroom planner. When I consider all of these areas that I want to better myself, I think of the fact that I work on these areas all the time. In fact, I just need to change how I look at them. If I came at it from a growth mindset perspective, I would be able to better use my mistakes as learning opportunities instead of cutting myself down for failing once again.

With that being said, I have chosen a New Year’s Resolution- Be accepting of my mistakes and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. I know that I am not perfect, but I can be better with self-reflection and positive self-talk. My goal is to gain some self-esteem and to stop always cutting myself down.

A huge part of attaining my goal will be to continue to learn more about the growth mindset. I am thankful for the opportunity to lead book study and learn from everyone who will be participating. I am also thankful for my amazing family, especially my super supportive husband. I know that Dacen will always be there to support me with anything I decide to do, and I definitely know that he will be willing to help me work on my positive self-talk and self-reflection.

I sincerely hope that all of you have a wonderful 2017. May you all be blessed with the support you require. I am super excited about what 2017 will bring! Here’s to a New Year full of opportunities, possibilities, learning and adventures!