My Students’ First Experience with Growth Mindset

If you’ve read my last post, then you probably know exactly what I activity I did with my students to truly help them experience growth mindset, if you haven’t, I will give you a brief synopsis, I got the idea here

The principle of the activity is to have your students experience growth mindset rather than talk to them about it. I gave my students a challenge, which many of you experienced in a recent lesson during our course, EDTE 501.

Very little instructions were given to students; I had several of the following card-stock models displayed throughout the classroom.

Borrowed from Tim Bowman’s post

Students were instructed to take out scissors; few instructions were given regarding the completion of the task however the following guidelines were set out:

  • Recreate this
  • Work at your desks, you can discuss quietly with someone next to you.
  • If you need to get a closer look, you can stand and  look at a model close-by, but you cannot touch it.
  • The adults in the room are observing and cannot answer your questions.
  • You only have one piece of paper for this activity; we cannot give you a second one.

As students started the task, I carefully monitored my watch and the time I would give them to “struggle”.

It was interesting to observe. Some students immediately started by cutting their paper; others looked at the models carefully and developed a plan regarding how and where they would cut their paper, some students put their scissors down and decided not to attempt the challenge.

As students discussed, I quietly noted some of the statements being expressed on the board. “How?” “I am confused!” “This is impossible!”

I gave students more time to continue and persevere as some were very dedicated to the task and tried to figure out how to accomplish the challenge they were presented with.

“This is impossible!”

One student approached me and said “I know how to do it now but I just need another piece of paper”. I was worried regarding this student’s response and how I would reply as in the past I have observed tears when this student encountered challenges. I kindly told the student “Sorry, only one piece of paper”.

I allowed students to work through for roughly 5-7 minutes before I announced the end of the task as I noticed many had stopped attempting the task; the teacher must be careful here not to let students get too discouraged, however this can be challenging when you’re not engaging orally with your students, therefore, for our class, this signaled the end of the challenge.

Picture of our fixed and growth mindset statements

I asked students some of the following questions:

  • Did someone manage to recreate the model?
  • How long did this take you?
  • How many tries?
  • Were the first ten seconds different than the last ten seconds? How? Why?
  • What did you think when/if you saw someone else re-create the model?
  • How many tries did you take?
  • How long did you look at the model before starting?

This created discussions regarding the different strategies used, I also had students do A-B partner shares before sharing out their answers.

Later, I asked students what I had written on the board, and why they thought I had written this. A student quickly noted that those were the statements they were uttering during their work.

I then added the title “Fixed Mindset” and underlined it in red. We talked about how a fixed mindset can stop us from persevering. I used an example relating to hockey and a dance concert (these are some prominent hobbies in our class) and what would happen if a hockey player was saying these things in their mind during a match, or a dancer before going on-stage, students discussed the possible results with a peer then shared out.

Further, we worked as a class to adapt or change the fixed mindset statements to more positive, “growth mindset” statements. This created our new column parallel to the fixed mindset and helped students explicitly experience the new vocabulary.

Students then ripped a piece of paper from their model they had attempted to create to write a growth mindset statement they liked and could place on their desk to help them when they encountered challenges in their work. We discussed how these statements could impact our ability to persevere and push through challenges. This had signaled the start of our growth mindset journey as a classroom community.

How do you think your students would experience this challenge? Can you envision this stimulating thought provoking discussions in your classroom? Why or why not? What might be missing or needed?

Course – F : Lesson Plan

Below is an example lesson plan offered by code studios:


The lesson plans provide the following structures.
– Overview
– Purpose (Rationale)
– Agenda (Lesson Body)
– Objectives (Learning intentions)
– Preparation (Materials)
– Links
– Vocabulary

 Teaching Guide
Warm Up (10 min)
– Introduction
Artist Introduction – Student Video
Turns & Angles – Student Video

Main Activity (30 min)
– Course F Online Puzzles – Website

Wrap Up (10 – 15 min)
– Journaling
– Journal Prompts

Extended Learning
– The Copy Machine

Notably, the Copyright of these lessons are Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlkike.

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

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Course – F : Runthrough

Course  F – 5: Programming in Artist

This lesson introduces the concept with a video. It explains the concept of a pixel and explains how to move and turn.


Instruction text, that points out if the student needs to try again.

The Workspace is the made area the student interacts with. Here students can drag and drop code using their mouse. The variables are preset but able to be adjusted. For example, Turn [left] by [90] degrees suggests 45 as an alternate degree.

After each completion it shows the student how many lines of code they wrote, whether they wish to continue, and vote if they liked or disliked the puzzle.


The lesson also provides optional challenges for students as they progress.

These questions assess students’ understanding with multiple choice at the end of the lesson.

Examples of Art creations:

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Example Course – F : Overview

View Course F

  1. A Ramp Up to Course (Optional)
  2. Course Content
  3. End of Course Project

Each lesson includes concepts and activities, utilizing text, video, and map. It also offers activities that are off the computer, ie “Unplugged”, online, and questions.

Furthermore, it can track if users have started, are in progress, have completed.

There are 29 lessons in this Course alone.


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Code.Org – Code Studio Video Introduction

“ has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged”activities that require no computer at all.”

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Inquiry Overview

How do we integrate coding into the classroom?

For my professional develop I am focused on introducing coding into an elementary classroom K – 7. Programming skills are increasing invaluable in this digital age. To empower our future generations my desire is to help eliminate digital illiteracy.

Thus through these investigations I hope to provide accessible content and resources for students/teachers to benefit from.


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How to Teach About Growth Mindset…

I get a sense that this is the post many of you have been waiting for, the juicy post with all the details and all the strategies and ways to introduce, teach and talk about growth mindset in the classroom.

I will stop you all right there with a disclaimer: I don’t have the answer to the above question. However, I will share what I have trialed, the different things I have learned and ideas I have or have found around teaching your students about growth mindset. I don’t believe there is one way or even a right or wrong way to MUTCD_R1-1.svgteach about growth mindset… and that attitude demonstrates a growth mindset in itself.

However, I do think there are some considerations to reflect upon when thinking about teaching this mindset to your students. First and foremost, educators must understand growth mindset and be willing to demonstrate it daily in their every-day including in their teaching before they start talking to their students about it. However, if you were to notice that you’ve got a fixed mindset, but you have the awareness and the belief of the strength and importance of a growth mindset, I believe it would be an exciting time and opportunity to embark on the learning journey alongside your students. It is crucial you remember the importance of your students’ emotional well-being throughout your teaching and activities as this is at the core of their mental health and will support your teaching overall.

Where did I start? Through listening to the audio book “Mindset for Success” I learned to gain a greater understanding of fixed and growth mindset and instances where I may have seen one or the other in my daily life.

Halfway through the audio book, I hadn’t gotten a sense of concrete ways to teach about growth mindset, however that may be for a few reasons:

  • Perhaps it is because I am more of a visual learner rather than auditory, I may not have been grasping the full concepts
  • Perhaps because Mindset for Success is not a guide for teachers and teaching about growth mindset, it simply teaches you about the concept and gives you examples where it may be seen.
  • Perhaps I needed to tap into other sources.

I needed to find an engaging and fun way to teach my students about growth mindset. Take a look at the blog post that I stumbled upon here: “Teaching Kids to Struggle

What are your thoughts regarding teaching kids to struggle? What considerations might you have in mind regarding this challenge you might present to your students? In my next post, you’ll hear how this experience went for my students in my Grade 4 French Immersion practicum class.