Year 4 and Year 1 were paired up which worked really well. The older children explained the mindsets to the younger ones. Y4 wrote character stories to represent the mindsets, tailored for a Y1 age group, then read them to the children. Year 1 children then wrote their own fables based on what they had heard, showing their level of understanding. Children now say ‘I like to be challenged’ and there is a more positive culture with more respect for each other.
Another teacher gave children a map, a starting point and asked them to learn the route from one point to another (local area). They had to instruct others. They were then shown the taxi driver YouTube clip and were astonished at the size of greater London and how much taxi drivers had to learn. They heard that it took 3 and a half years to learn the knowledge. There was an enormous change in attitude, especially from the lower achievers.
One teacher described how displays for maths focus on not comparing yourself with others. Children now say ‘I’m making a good mistake.’ They seem to have lost the fear.
Teachers showed children the taxi driver’s brains YouTube clip which has led to children aspiring to have massive brains! They say ‘that got my synapses firing!’ pinpointing which bits they really had to work on. Children’s comments in their books allow teachers to see what they need more practise on. One teacher said that this clip combined with mixed ability teaching has resulted in more awareness of where they are in their learning journey and more learning from each other.
Two characters were introduced to represent the growth and fixed mindsets which has made the atmosphere in the classroom more positive. Children are more patient and tolerant of each other. The language of the growth mindset is evident although how actual behaviours have changed is not clear yet. It was felt that this had helped the most conscientious children rather than the children who really need to develop a more positive attitude.
One teacher had introduced the ‘juicy mistake’. Children circle their mistake, showing it under the visualiser. Children were becoming more positive and braver in their attitude to mistakes, learning from each other.
From SEAL one teacher introduced characters of a lion and a mouse, using a real mouse. The mantra was ‘nibble and nibble and nibble and you can do it, no matter how small’. This has led to a more positive attitude to risk taking and children are persevering for longer.
The phrase ‘I can’t do it yet’ was significant and one teacher had banned rubbers. Children have more pride and have changed their thinking about mistakes. They use mistakes to learn to focus on pinpointing an aspect of challenge and have no shame in making mistakes.
Practise and perseverance had been greatly discussed with models given of how they lead to success. Lower achieving children have been especially helped, now persevering, trying again, contributing more and working through problems. Higher achievers have also been helped through their fear of failure.
One school described how the growth mindset was dovetailed with a visit from an Olympic athlete and a school focus on ‘be the best you can be’. Children’s questions to the athlete were answered by ‘reliance’ and ‘practice’. Children were asked to make Dream Books about their hopes and dreams for themselves, a road map to success, with strategies for how to overcome the barriers, with Plans A and B. Children talk about the growth mindset and now have more resilience, persevere for longer and it has created a focus and urgency about learning. Children have a better idea of what they can become and has opened up their thinking.
Another teacher has a green growth mindset display, including the ranking of celebrities’ intelligence. There has been lots of discussion about this which has led to lower achievers being more ambitious. They now raise their hands.
An artist drew for one school a picture of a growth mindset child and a fixed, which are on permanent display.
Teachers had used the phrase ‘We don’t know YET’, including the teacher. Lessons had included a focus on ‘who is most intelligent’, ‘growth v fixed’ and ‘brainbox’ (PSHE unit). Children are now more prepared to take risks, the language of learning is embedded and behaviour has improved.
Split – screen lessons had been effective for making learning dispositions explicit, so had improved these skills.
One lower achiever who didn’t much like writing demonstrated a good idea that helped everyone. Having discussed the success criteria for a recount of A Roman soldier visit opened with a question that grabbed the reader’s attention: ‘Did you know that the Romans wiped their bottoms with a sponge on a stick?’
All teachers had experimented with mixed ability with some guided group work and felt that this had really helped the lower and middle achievers. Test results were higher and behaviour improved. Higher achievers needed some work to be together.
Using a visualiser to show children’s work and subsequent peer assessment had motivated children and made them more accepting of mistakes. They were better able to constructively criticise and more able to accept criticism. All children, including higher achievers saw the need to keep improving. Copying issues were now a thing of the past.
One class had sorted growth and fixed characteristics and positive phrases had been displayed. Effort comments are both written and verbal and this has led to children encouraging each other, using the phrases.
One teacher had a debate ‘Who is the most intelligent? Why?’ There was a good discussion and children saw that they were all successful in what they did linked to the 8 areas of learning. Children’s language was more positive.
The 8 areas of learning were introduced one each week with teachers asking children how they could show the teacher they were using the power. The older children did not want characters to represent the powers. One child did create his own character for independent learning.
One teacher had made a graph showing what each child was really good at.
The taxi drive YouTube clip had helped lower achievers see that they did not have to be lower achievers all their life. Other children were excited and had realised that you have to work at something to get results. They were fascinated by the brain gaining weight.
Watching a clip of neurons connecting had led to children talking about this whenever they learnt something new.
One teacher showed clips of Einstein and Miley Cyrus. This has led to a shift in the perception of cleverness. Another teacher changed the level of difficulty of children’s work and asked children to choose their tasks. They all succeeded at higher level work because they were more confident at challenging themselves.
Self-esteem was growing in the children, especially in lower achievers.
The clips made the concepts of fixed and growth mindsets explicit and had helped deliver a culture that it’s OK to struggle because it means your brain is growing and stretching.
Claire Hodgson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tower Hamlets, London
Stella Smith | email@example.com
Stella Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
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