Age 9-11: Y5/6 (4/5 Grade US) 2016 Feedback from Day 2


Growth mindset

All teachers had talked to children about how the brain grows and the power of yet.  In the short term children referred back to it and were heard saying ‘My brain is growing’.  All felt it had to be kept going.  Some children were using ‘I can’t do it yet’ as a get-out.

When asked which mindset they were, children chose the answer they thought was correct rather than how they really felt.  They might know the right answer but don’t necessarily apply it.

Four teachers had created displays.  Children refer to these.

Mindset books used included Beautiful oops and Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

A parents’ consultation letter had reassured parents who were worried by this new emphasis.

The panic, learning and comfort zones were used by 2 teachers.  Children referred to it when they had chosen the wrong level for them and were able to change their challenge.

Learning powers

Quigley’s secrets of success had been used in one school:

By the time these have all been introduced, children can clearly see that they meet these secrets of success.

Games on the computer about escaping had helped children to develop determination to not give up.  They discussed what they had learned from this.


Growth mindset

Two teachers had given the class questionnaires. Most children initially thought they had a growth mindset but, after discussion, decided differently.  They talked about how to get a growth mindset so there was a raising of awareness. The growth mindset language is in use but in the early stages.

Mazes had also been used to see which level children chose. The results were a way of stopping teachers stereotyping children.

Children had been asked by 3 teachers to put celebrities in order of cleverness, which helped children realise there were different ways to be clever and the role that working hard played. One child said ‘Everyone is intelligent in different ways.’

Carol Dweck quotes had been displayed around the classroom, keeping it high profile and changing so that they don’t become wallpaper. These gave children growth mindset vocabulary. One teacher asked children to vote for the best quotes.

Growth mindset individual posters had been created reflecting the children’s personal goals and the video ‘Anyone can do anything’ had been discussed.  This got the children thinking and improved their self-esteem, particularly one lower achieving child.

One teacher made a 3D brain!

All teachers had made growth mindset class posters showing the parts of the brain and the brain as a muscle. One had shown heat pictures of the brain in different colours, changing as thought was happening.  The children were amazed by this and could see the brain was a muscle. Children were engaged by the information and interested to learn about it. ‘Neuron Ned’ was also used, which showed the synapses connecting.  This helped children see that their learning could get better.

Robert Winston on Youtube was another good resource about the brain.  One teacher said that two lower achievers in her class who reached 100+ for their SATs was largely due to the focus on the growth mindset, in her opinion.

One teacher had linked the growth mindset with maths, using Youcubed (Jo Boaler’s website: ‘A week of inspirational maths’: growth mindset ideas in maths and problem solving). This eradicated the culture of the ‘top table’.

In one school the children from the class had been able to articulate what learning means to the new class on the transition day.  Children were able to transfer their understanding of the growth mindset to various contexts. Murray’s win at Wimbledon was discussed as a vehicle for how success is achieved.

One teacher had used the book ‘Your fantastic elastic brain’ to help children understand how the brain works.

All teachers had introduced the deep dark learning hole, which had led to children self-correcting and celebrating this as evidence of new learning.

One teacher had invented a learning dial showing the different parts of the brain, so that children can turn the dial to show which part of the brain they are using. This really engages the children.

Overall self-esteem has risen and given children more capacity to cope with SAT tests.  Teachers could see progress in particular children who might not have succeeded otherwise.

Learning powers

Three teachers had used characters to attach to the learning powers and wrote stories to illustrate their attributes.  The children took them to Year 1 and shared their stories, asking questions to check their understanding, at the same time embedding Y6 understanding.

One teacher used Star Wars characters combined with the ‘learning pit’ (James Nottingham).

Ross, California

Grades 3,4,5

All 4th graders are given growth mindset quotes for their cursive handwriting practise. It was felt that this was one more way to infuse the growth mindset in everything we do.

Teachers had a YET sign and children can’t say now that they can’t do it.  They have to add yet and refer to the bullseye zones.  This has made a huge difference in one teacher’s classes.  Students don’t say ‘I can’t’.  They understand that skills are built up over time.  They know learning is a process and they feel better that it doesn’t come instantly.

All teachers had introduced the bullseye zones and also encouraged parents to use it.  Choosing the challenge zones had been extremely impactful, with children choosing where to move to in the class.

Students look at their work more readily to see their own progress – is this better than the last? How have I improved?

‘Dojo’ videos had been used to encourage discussion.

The ordering of smartness of 6 celebrities had been used and the two mindsets were displayed as a poster.

Children were less stressed and knew about practising and growing your brain.  Learning is more fun with children being more supportive of each other rather than being closed off.  The young children had particular success learning about the mindsets.

Middle school (11-14)

Mindsets were discussed with students who bought into it and realised their potential for learning.  The word ‘yet’ had been added to negative responses and students are taking advantage of choosing challenges and learning at their own rate.

One teacher had children writing sentences explaining the mistake they had made, resulting in really powerful conversations about the importance of mistakes.

The learning zones bullseye poster had been displayed and both teachers and students refer to this.

It was felt that PE is the epitome of the growth mindset.

Positive conversations are occurring when students aren’t feeling good at maths, but the challenge is that these students tend to feel that way across all subjects so need across the board growth mindset input.

One teacher displayed growth mindset quotes which encouraged students to be intrinsically motivated.  Effort and time = improvement was emphasised.  The teahcre watched which students read the quotes and noticed that those who did immediately put their head back down to the task in hand.

The intelligence ordering of celebrities was discussed and students are beginning to use the language of the growth mindset across lessons.  There needed to be whole school organisation of the activities or students can have repeated lessons of the same thing.