Math Mindset

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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)

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Back to School with a Growth Mindset

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“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: Foter.com

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.

Spread Positivity

Positivity doesn’t just change the contents of your mind…It widens the span of possibilities that you see. ~Barbara Fredrickson

8705332490One of my favorite shows is Friends. I watched it when it first aired and continue to watch it in reruns each day. It makes me laugh and I love to laugh. I also try on a daily basis to be optimistic and find the positive events of the day, even when it is gray and gloomy and rainy like it was yesterday until 4:25. I had been dreading taking my dog J out to walk because he does not like to walk with purpose in the rain and I tend to have to half drag, half carry him. We left for our walk in a very light drizzle and while we were out there the skies began to clear and the sun came out. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. It amazes me how a hint of sun can turn things around.

Fast forward to later that evening when my daughter was watching Friends. She regularly tells me that I remind her of Alec Baldwin’s character, “Enthusiastic Parker” and coincidentally that was the episode she happened to be watching. Here is a short clip to give you a sense of this character. You can skip to 1:31 to truly get a sense of this guy or take the 3 minutes to enjoy a laugh.

 

While Enthusiastic Parker may take his positivity to the nth degree, being optimistic and noticing the positive around you does make a difference in your well-being and in the people around you.

This week I am sharing two articles that speak to the effects of positive leadership and how to teach your students positivity.

The first article, “The Effects of a Positive Mindset on School Culture” talks about practical optimism as “characterized by a belief—in yourself and others—that success is possible, which in turn fuels determination to accomplish what you have set out to do.”

Making a conscious effort to model practical optimism and support a positive school culture can be transformational for you, your colleagues, and students. Adopting practical optimism as your modus operandi and taking advantage of opportunities to build rapport with colleagues and encourage them to continually hone their professional practice in positive ways will further enhance your well-being, as well as the culture of your school. You will improve relationship-building and communication skills that support empathetic, productive interactions with all educational stakeholders involved.

The article offers four strategies for nurturing and enhancing your optimism: doing for others, expressing gratitude, getting exercise, and deliberately focusing on the positive.

Focusing on the positive might take some effort. You can read about Positivity Ratios here , watch a short video about Positive Emotions here, and take Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity Ratio test over the next several days to see what kinds of things you notice as you go through your day.

The next article, “Teaching Happiness at School: 3 Activities to Cultivate Well-Being in Schools” is about teaching well-being to your students. It introduces the concept of the benefits of positive emotions as developed by Barbara Fredrickson,

… positive emotional experiences have long-lasting effects on our personal growth and development. Specifically, positive emotions broaden our attention and thinking, enhance resilience, and build durable personal resources, which fuel more positive emotions in the future.

The article suggest three easy ways to incorporate positivity in your classroom, my favorite being the “What Went Well Wall” where students write three things that went well for them during the lesson, school day, or week. I like this activity because it is an easy way to help your students reflect on each day and grow their ability to see the positive around them, plus, it is a visual reminder of all that is going well in their lives.

 

 

What I’m Learning Right Now

The new year has been a busy one of learning, growth, and reframing. It started with the Positive Education pilot retreat that I, along with 20 other colleagues, participated in over two days the 2nd week of January. It rekindled my interest in psychology, my first love, that I studied in college and for a time thought that would be my direction. Positive Education falls under the umbrella of Positive Psychology and is grounded in research and evidence on the effects and benefits of positive emotions on health, well-being, and relationships with others. In a nutshell, you can think of it as, “Others Matter”. Intrigued? You can see my notes from the retreat in this Storify.

When I like something, I usually dive in and learn as much about it as I can either through books, workshops, or coursework. Coincidentally, and perhaps a bit of the stars aligning, there was a course from from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in Positive Psychology that was beginning the following week on Coursera. I enrolled and am moving right through it. What I am learning is that we are hard-wired with a negativity bias which was helpful to our early ancestors who needed to be attuned to dangers. Negative emotions “scream” at us whereas positive emotions are more subtle “like a whisper”. The negativity bias makes it harder for us to recognize the positive experiences around us. “Positive experiences are actually more frequent than negative in people’s lives but we need to train ourselves to see them and let those positive events become positive emotions” (Fredrickson).

In addition to the Positive Psychology course I have been reading Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a PIRATE. What I love about this book is that he is blending his knowledge of marketing and his passion for magic and showmanship with his love of teaching. I recognize many of Burgess’ hooks and ideas from two previous courses I took from Wharton through Coursera. TLAP encourages and reminds us as educators that we need to make our content relevant to the students and we need to find ways to make our classes unforgettable so that students want to come to class to learn. It is not enough to just show up and deliver our lessons, we need to find ways to incorporate our passions and our students’ interests into each class so students are engaging with the content in meaningful, memorable ways.

You can read my current notes for both Positive Psychology and Teach Like a PIRATE here in this Storify.