Math Mindset


Success in math does not depend on how many answers you know, but by what you do when you don’t know the answer.

~ author unknown

This week’s focus is on math. It just so happened that the tabs and things that I clicked on all happened to have that common denominator (pun intended!). Get ready- lots of great resources within . . .

It all started with this guest post by John Stevens on Matt Miller’s blog titled, “How to Assign Challenges Instead of Math Homework”. Intrigued? Of course I was and so I opened it right up and found several links to sites like this that go beyond computation towards more conversations about math. Curious? Then click.

I’m sure at one time or another whether in your classroom or even your own home, you have heard a child say,”I’m bad at math.” In this article, Sheila Tobias, Carol Dweck and others discuss how to respond when one of your children says this.

Of course what would be a post of mine without some mention of Alice Keeler. In this article from MindShift KQED News (if you don’t follow them, you should), you’ll see how Jo Boaler has influenced Keeler and how Keeler uses the GSuite tools to enhance math exploration and understanding.

much of traditional math teaching focuses on numerical representations, teachers demonstrating procedures, and memorization, when it would be more effective to try to strengthen connections between the various parts of the brain needed when working on math. ~Jo Boaler

You can see Jo Boaler’s Cue17 keynote, and learn about her site, Youcubed (from my Happy end of school year post). 

While looking for a great quote to share, I stumbled upon this post of Carol Dweck quotes that I think would be great to either print out and hang in your class or read at the start of each day. One of my colleagues (Carole K) has printed different motivational quotes and applied them at each of her students’ tabletops as a subtle reminder to her fifth grade students.

For more fantastic articles and resources, please visit this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition where you will see posts like this one: “Neverending Problems: Math Tasks That Keep on Giving” ; this one, “How a Strengths-Based Approach to Math Redefines Who is ‘Smart'”; and this one, “Kahoot! Debuts Studio of Curriculum-Aligned Games for K-12″ including a math collection!

photo credit: dullhunk Who needs Pythagoras’ theorem? via photopin (license)


Back to School with a Growth Mindset


“There is a difference between not knowing and not knowing YET” ~Sheila Tobias

Welcome back to what I hope will be a positive school year for everyone. I have collected some posts that I think will help you make this year of learning in your classroom memorable for you and your students.

First off is a post from esteemed educator, George Couros titled, 5 Questions to Ask Your Students to Start the School Year, one of them being, “What are your strengths and how can we utilize them?” In his post he emphasizes how the impact our experiences with our students helps shape their thoughts and reflections and memories of school. Coming off our school’s recent Positive Psychology/Positive Education retreat, we know that positive psychology is about recognizing that “Other People Matter” and if we keep this at the forefront of our mind, we can hope to positively shape and influence our students’ experiences for the better. This involves how we listen to, respond, speak to, and engage with our students. To see the rest of the questions Couros suggests, click here.

The next is from Khan Academy and it ties in with positive psychology’s emphasis on Growth Mindset. Khan Academy has partnered with PERTS, a Stanford-based research group that includes Carol Dweck, Joe Boaler and others. They have created a series of lessons on growth mindset for students ranging from third through twelfth grade as part of their LearnStorm activities (What is Learnstorm- watch here). Within each of the six growth mindset activities, you will find readings, videos, reflection prompts, and more. You can do the activities one per week over six weeks, or whatever works for your classroom. For more information on how a third grade teacher used the lessons with his classroom, you can watch this recording.

I have posted about this next tool before here and here, but with so many new features as well as the opportunities it affords to learn your students’ stories, thoughts, reflections, and connect with others around the world, it bears mentioning again. Flipgrid is the easiest way to have your students create video responses to your prompts which with the wide array of amazing new features (yes, I have said it again because they are really that great) includes text, video, image, or uploaded document prompts.

The final share is a two-part post on bell-ringer activities from Matt Miller of DITCH Textbook fame. I have previously written about him here and here and several other mentions. In his two-part post he offers 20 digital ways to kick off your class and hook your students into each learning experience to make their learning memorable. Some of my favorite ideas are the QR code on the board, a What If Flipgrid , tweeting for someone, blackout poetry, and s- (to see the rest and figure out what I was about to say, visit 10 digital bell-ringer activities to kickstart class and 10 MORE digital bell ringer activities to kickstart class.

Photo credit:

Got a Minute?

This week I learned about a great new site called Check 123. It is an online video encyclopedia of over 20,000 videos on a range of topics from the Arts to Technology with a lot more- 27 to be exact- in between. What makes this site different is that the videos are either 1, 2, or 3 minutes long. While browsing the site this morning, I found several videos that I know my colleagues could use with their unit on Westward Expansion and Ancient China. They also have a Chrome extension that brings web pages to life by searching the page for companion videos that you or your students can watch without leaving the web page. Pretty cool. After I got my welcome email- of course I joined this site- it’s free not to mention useful- I replied back and then got a reply to my reply. They are very responsive. If they don’t have a video you need, just ask and they will find one for you.

What’s in a name? I have shared numerous times about sites you can use for creating interactive videos for formative assessment, or designing blended learning lessons. Well, some of the sites have changed their name. Educanon is now Play Posit; Blendspace is now TESTeach, and Histry is now Sutori. Just thought you’d want to know.

This morning I finally had some time to watch a video that has been sitting in my tabs. It is Jo Boaler’s kickoff keynote on math and growth mindset from the CUE 17 conference. It is an approximately 45 minute keynote that is well worth your time. In it Boaler speaks to how calling our students smart or gifted can actually lead to fixed mindsets, and how we can change how our students think of themselves by the messages we give them. For example, if you ask a question and call on the first person who raises her/his hand, the message you are sending is that speed matters. The same message goes out when you give timed math quizzes and that is one of the stressors that leads to math anxiety. I encourage you to watch this keynote.

If you’d like to learn more from Jo, including finding amazing resources for students, parents, and teachers, webinars and online courses, you can visit their new website, YouCubed. YouCubed’s mission is to inspire math success for all students through innovative teaching and growth mindset.

Science, Google, Growth Mindset and More

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.” ― John DeweyExperience and Education

In honor of Earth Day and because I am a huge fan of Zaption, here is a Zaption tour on the Super Powers of Trees. Share with your students as a whole class and use the questions as discussion prompts, or share via your Edmodo class page and have your kids take a look tonight for some Earth Day fun. Be sure to browse all the Tours available for your use or remixing!

If you are someone who loves Science, teaches Science, wants to learn more about how memory works, or are just a Physics buff, you will enjoy this post 15 Science YouTube channels Kids Love. These channels explain science, they are not just how tos.

New features are coming all the time to Google Classroom, and today I learned about a few more. Now teachers can invite other teachers to be part of their classroom (think student teachers, co-teachers, etc) making sharing what’s going on and multiple teachers assigning work (or knowing what work your students have from other teachers) that much easier. The next is the ability to create an assignment and save it as a draft to post later. If you have other ideas, Google is happy to listen so think about what you would need from Google Classroom and let them know.

While we are almost at the end of April, it is still poetry month and so I thought I would pass this along to you. More likely something you might be interested in for yourself, or if you are a high school English teacher you might want to share with your students. This is the Library of Congress’  Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature where you can hear authors like Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury reading some of their poetry and giving commentary along the way. For more poet interviews (including spotlights on Hispanic writers, African writers, and more) both recorded and written, see here.

Some of you have started using Thinglink with your students as a way for them to share information about a topic. Richard Byrne shares how you can use your Thinglink classroom account and the Remix feature (where you take a Thing that’s already been made and remix it your way so you are not starting from scratch) to create review lessons for your students. This post is specifically about using it for map review, but I can see it easily being used for other purposes around your curriculum (Science you can have an image the students need to label, English they can answer Qs about a novel, etc).

We talk regularly about formative assessments, but have you thought about having your students use photos, screenshots, screencasts, and videos to find out what your students learned or found interesting today? Take a look at this article from Edutopia to see how your students can share artifacts of learning using digital media.

This next post by The Nerdy Teacher is about The next best thing to being there. The Nerdy Teacher, aka Nicholas Provenzano, is a 9th grade English teacher. He was going to be out of class at a conference for a few days but wanted his students to go on in class as if he was still there. He created some screencast of himself reading 4 different Emily Dickinson poems that he then wanted students to discuss. Since he was not going to be in class, he had the students do a “Silent Discussion” using their Google Classroom stream as their platform. You can read about it here. What he saw was how much discussion and interaction happened around these poems both during classtime and after it ended. It went so much better than he thought that he wondered if he holds his students back during discussions by being too involved himself. So, if you are going to be out of school for a day or two, why not be there virtually instead! For more ways to have class discussions where everyone gets a chance to speak up, not just the ones raising their hands, try Todays Meet, or if your classroom is on Twitter, use a hashtag to have a class chat.

I have shared several articles and posts on Fixed v Growth Mindset and today I am sharing one more. This one however, is a lesson plan developed in partnership with Khan Academy and it can be used over a few days with your students. It incorporates videos, discussions, and hands-on activities that help your students see that they can make a difference in their own learning, understanding and intelligence. I think this would be a great set of mini lessons to do with your students as you approach the end of the school year because it can be used in part as a reflection of their learning while they share information with future students of your classroom.