One school had Year 4 designing characters for the fixed and growth mindset to explain to Year 1. The older children then read them to the Year 1s. Children appear to have more understanding of perseverance and are using the vocabulary and talking about it.
Another teacher used the idea of a fable: perseverance wins the race. Children wrote their own stories. Year 1 were buddied with Year 5 to help them understand the growth mindset. These children are acting as ambassadors, spreading the word across the school.
Another teacher showed her class a clip of the brain at work. Children were mesmerised by it, even though there was no sound. They created a class poster of their ideas for how we can achieve things that we find difficult. Their main message was practise, learn from your mistakes and have a go. Children now say ‘I think I just felt a spark!’ Connections in the brain have become part of the teacher’s vocabulary.
Teachers in the SLD school created a visual poster: we are all different, we love learning new things, we like to be challenged, we feel clever when….. This was rolled out to parents and used in assemblies. Support staff are now using appropriate praise language and children understand that they learn from mistakes. Children have become more independent in using resources and are finding solutions to problems.
One teacher trialled ‘Thinking Bear’ as a character to make the learning powers explicit. This didn’t work for lower achievers as they were too attached to the bear and were unable to focus on the purpose of the bear.
She then introduced ‘Elmer’ to represent the growth mindset and a crocodile for the fixed. This was more successful. Elmer encouraged children who were struggling, sitting next to them and spurring them on, so children became more used to thinking like Elmer.
Another teacher introduced Homer Simpson as a fixed mindset and then the children came up with their own characters for the growth mindset. The boys chose Einstein and the girls chose Dora the Explorer. Children are now able to be more independent and self-motivated, particularly with writing. Boys were harder to become self-motivated.
Another teacher introduced ‘Frank the Fox’ as a growth mindset puppet. The children encouraged each other to keep on trying, motivating themselves using encouraging language. It was felt that it would all have to be reintroduced this term.
Another teacher had ‘Dick’ and ‘Dom’ for growth and fixed mindsets and the children made posters of advice to give the puppets. Children now give advice to each other for they can be more like Dom.
One teacher used how children chose library books as an indicator of fixed or growth.
Children now sit with their talk partners all the time, but one teacher felt that the higher achievers don’t challenge themselves. Children in another school now know what zone they are in (children grouped according to zones of proximal development) and feel confident about this. Children are not afraid to say work is too difficult or easy for them.
Teachers had focused on one learning power a week and had developed posters to be able to write in the learning power for lessons (split screen lessons).
Three teachers had shown children the YouTube clip ‘Taxi drivers’ brains’. One teacher modelled the brain growing by having one child in the middle and children being added. Children are now more aware that their brain is developing as they learn.
One teacher has a display on her door with different phrases about successful learning. (e.g. ‘I know I’m learning if it’s hard.) Both the teacher and the teaching assistant use these phrases.
One teacher had superheroes for the areas of learning (e.g. Colin Concentrate, Dotty Don’t give up etc.). She had introduced one character at a time and referred back to it during inputs and independent activities. Children were excited about meeting the next superhero.
Another teacher had introduced a ‘Successful Octopus’ and another ‘Orlando the Octopus’ to link with the 8 area of successful learning given to the team. One aspect was introduced per week and the staff referred to this during each lesson. Children were always looking at the character to remind themselves of how to be successful.
Both strategies had led to children knowing that if they can’t do it to start with, it doesn’t mean they will never be able to do it. Children are now using learning language and taking responsibility for the different areas of learning (e.g. managing distractions).
One teacher described a ‘split/screen’ lesson in which the learning focus was ‘want to practice’ and ‘want to challenge’. Children could choose which one they felt they needed. The teacher felt that some children need to know they have the basic understanding before they challenge themselves. All the children now have a good attitude to learning and want to challenge themselves. The teacher is still intervening to check that children have chosen an appropriate task.
Two teachers acted out the fixed and growth mindsets, giving different examples. The children found this hilarious and remembered the messages.
Claire Hodgson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tower Hamlets, London
Stella Smith | email@example.com
Stella Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
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