Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

It’s crazy to believe that April is already half way over…??? Ummmmm, how did that happen? With testing and crazy weather patterns, I once again feel like the amount of actual teaching I’ve done is down to a minimum. (In case you didn’t hear, the midwest got yet another storm this past week, so Thursday school was cancelled again because of “blizzard like conditions.”) I think my students are starting to hit that spring slide because it’s getting harder and harder to motivate them everyday.

Because of that, I wanted to look into ways to keep them motivated and positive through the end of the year. I also am having many students who are becoming very emotional lately and I wanted to continue to remind them how to be positive and believe in themselves even if something doesn’t go as planned. I did a quick amazon search for growth mindset books and found The Growth Mindset Playbook; A Teacher’s Guide to Promoting Student Success, by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley.

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I’m only a few chapters in right now but I wanted to reflect on some of the concepts I’ve come across already that I’ve found to be quite interesting.

The book begins by explaining the difference between growth and fixed mindset. Simply put, growth mindset individuals always see a way and are open to failure because they can learn from it, whereas fixed mindset individuals believe if they fail they fail and are completely defeated. I’ve tried all year to create growth mindset students but some are still struggling with effort because they don’t believe in themselves.

To help teach what growth mindset thinkers believe, the authors included a mini lesson to do as a whole class. The teacher writes out a series of scenarios on notecards. The scenarios range between how a fixed mindset person would react to a situation and how a growth mindset person would react to a situation. They work as a team to sort each notecard into a fixed or growth mindset category. The scenarios in this book are middle/high school age situations so before I try this out, I have to think of situations an 8 year old could relate to. I want to try this once our testing if over to hopefully spark some interest and motivation for the last month of school.

The second main idea I found interesting so far in this book is the concept that even if a teacher teaches growth mindset, their students might not be successful in grasping the concept. The authors found that a teacher can talk about having a growth mindset until they’re blue in the face but it won’t make a difference unless they model having a growth mindset themselves for their students. I think this was a pretty powerful idea. It shows how much of an impact a teacher has on their students. You can teach your students to believe in anything but if you don’t believe in it yourself, they’re never going to catch on.

I think I model this pretty well for my kiddos. Everyday we talk about the importance of effort and how we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. I stress that I don’t care if someone got 100% on a test or 50% on a test as long as they put in effort and strive to learn from their errors the next time around. I talk a lot about my mistakes and how I learn from them to do and be better at my job. I’m also a HUGE Harry Potter fan and have instilled that love with my class. I’ve shared with them the story of J.K. Rowling and how she got her start. I’ve told them about how she was rejected by 12 different companies before someone told her they would publish her story. This has always been a huge motivator for me and I love to share it with my students because the story is so inspirational.

I have not gotten very far into the book but I plan to continue reading to learn more about having a growth mindset and how to use that information to help my students and to help our class have a great end of the year. As I keep reading, I hope to continue to share little tips and tricks that I learn to help any of you who are also having a hard time getting your students to believe in themselves.

Testing Testing Testing

It’s that happy season again. State standardized testing has begun and I am trying to be the best cheerleader I can.

When we come back on Monday, my students will start the MCA (Minnesota’s standardized test) reading test and I have tried as hard as I can to prep them for what’s in store. We spent the whole week this week prepping for what the test is going to look and be like. We went online and watched tutorials on how to use the test and did practice tests all together as a class. By the end of today my kids were shot, and we haven’t even started the official test yet!

The past few weeks we have practiced with different new passages and taking comprehension test questions on them. We’ve gone over test taking strategies and have watched motivational videos but I don’t think I’ve done enough.

My students are 3rd graders, so in Minnesota, this is the first official year they take the MCA standardized test. I’ve done my best to prep them the best I can and explain how serious this test is but after today, I’m not sure they really understand. We’ve talked about how it’s important to do our best and to stay focused, but these are 3rd graders. Needless to say, I’m very nervous.

I know being a teacher, we are supposed to be positive and motivational but there is only so much I can do. I wish I could tell my students how I really feel about the test but we all know that isn’t possible. We are all set to “teach towards the test” in any state we’re in and we are seen as bad teachers if we don’t. I’m ready for the next few weeks to be over.

That being said, we have to give out the tests and they have to take it, it’s part of the job. I try to make testing days as low key and as exciting as possible. For our tests, we are given a total of 4 school days to work on them (2 for reading and 2 for math.) We get about half of every day to test and the other half to have classroom time. I try to utilize my classroom time to get them in the mood for the test and to relax and destress after the test.

When they come in every morning, I have a treat on their desk with a motivational note. I downloaded these FREE notes on TPT last year from Math Mojo‘s shop and I LOVE them.

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The students come in each morning of testing excited to go! I usually put on a few GoNoodles before we head to our designated testing room so they can move and get their blood flowing. After the test, the rest of the day is for relaxation! Depending on the weather, (again, love Minnesota…) we will either go outside or play games in the classroom. The test takes out SO MUCH that I want them to decompress as much as they can. Once the 4 test days are over, I spend the rest of the next week doing fun art projects and team building activities.

I wish all of you luck as we head into testing season. Hang in there and be the best teacher/cheerleader/counselor you can be for you students! All I can think about is when I had to take these wonderful tests in 3rd grade. I want my students to have better memories than I have, that’s for sure!

My fellow teachers, we got this!

Deep Breaths and Namaste

Today was another one of those days. You know what I mean, the days when nothing goes right and your kids are OFF THEIR ROCKERS! Happy full moon right?

The day started when my severe ADHD boy told me that 1. he forgot to take his medication at home and 2. the school had run out of his supply of the medication that is stored in the nurse’s office. When he told me this, I was terrified because he is a handful on his meds.

Within 30 minutes, I had to have him go take “a break” in our movement room to release his excess energy (something he does in the middle of the day.) Needless to say, it was one of those days.

To add to the fun, I started to get a horrible migraine. I’ve never had a migraine before last year. (AKA My first year teaching….) What I’ve noticed is that when I’m super stressed, overwhelmed, or tired they come on fast and last for multiple days. My head had been hurting for the past few days but today it hit me in full at school. It was so bad that I couldn’t even do a read aloud for my class. I took a “mini nap” (or whatever laying your head down on your desk but not actually falling asleep is) during my prep and then put on a magic school bus on for my kids to end the day. I was trying my hardest to make it through. At the end of the day when my head was ready to burst, my lovely little boy decided he was going to yell at the top of his lungs while wrestling with his best friend in the back of the room. Yeah. I was done.

So pretty much I left school on the break of crying my eyes out and ready to take a 24 hour nap. When I got home, instead of laying down, I decided that I would try a more holistic remedy to my migraine by doing some slow de-stressing yoga. You guys, this was the BEST thing in the world!

I started Yoga with Adrienne‘s 2019 30 day challenge, Dedicate and it was the best decision I have ever made. (Yes that is a bit dramatic but when you have such a bad migraine you can’t even open your eyes, relief is everything!)

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I started with day 1 which is all about discern. It was all about recognizing your body and mind. The first and last few minutes of the practice was all about focusing on your breath. It was exactly what I needed. I’m not joking, by the end of the 50 minute practice, my migraine had gotten SO MUCH BETTER!! My head still hurts but I can at least keep my eyes open without major pain.

Oh man what a week. It was such a good week so I’m so sad it had to end like this. Next week will be better, I know it! Happy weekend!!!!

 

Goodbye Break, Hello 3rd Trimester

I don’t know about you but I am ready for spring! We just came back from our spring break and I am now pumped for sunshine, flowers, and warm weather! I’m also feeling the effects of the final trimester feels at school.

This week started our 3rd trimester for the year, which means we are officially 2/3 of the way to the end! That’s crazy to me because this time of the year is jammed packed with so many things and I don’t know if I’m ready for all of it!

We came back slow and easy this week to start the last 1/3 of the year off right. Monday was a professional development day so for the kiddos, it was only a 4 day week. At my school, 3rd graders receive swimming lessons as part of their phy ed curriculum. On Tuesday and Thursday this week, they walked over to our high school (which is right across the street) and had an hour of lessons in the morning. This was during my reading and math blocks. The afternoons were filled with their other specials (art, media, and music) and intervention pull outs, which meant that I really didn’t get to work with my class at all those days. Today, we had our “swimming celebration” at our local community center for half of the day and a movie party in the afternoon.

This meant that Wednesday was my only main day to teach. Because I wasn’t on a regular unit for the week, I decided to dedicate my reading block to letter writing (since writing gets pushed back in my curriculum, we don’t have much extra time to fit writing in.) I wanted a fun and light project to do since we were really just getting back in the swing of things.

I found a letter writing activity using the model text, The Day the Crayons Came Home on Pinterest that was exactly what I wanted. I read the story to my class and then we talked about features of a letter. (We have pen pals this year, so they have some experience with it but not a lot.) They then got to pick their favorite colored crayon and think about what their journey would’ve been like if they were a lost crayon wanting to come home.

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I modeled on the board an example of a letter they would need to write. We talked about including what color they are, why they left in the first place, what happened while they were away, and why they want to come back. They were super creative with their writings and really used their imagination!

 

This has been another crazy week. Starting next week we have to really jump into preparing for our state standardized tests that come up in April. I’ll be sharing different reviews that I use and activities we do in order to prepare for these. My kiddos are in 3rd grade and in the state of Minnesota, 3rd grade is the year they begin their standardized testing. Over the next month, I’m going to have to really dig into test taking strategies and test taking rules they will need to use and follow when the big day comes. Wish me luck!

 

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