Change Your Mindset

14 February 2016
Growth Mindset in the Upper Grade ClassroomGrowth Mindset has been a huge theme in our classroom this year.  Right from the very first week - the very first day. I chose our first read aloud, Fish in a Tree, because it also fits our growth mindset theme.  Our rich discussions following our reading each day focus on how the main character displays a fixed mindset at the beginning of the novel, and we have been making connections with the novel and discussing how to move past the fixed mindset to embrace a growth mindset.  Having set the groundwork right from the very beginning, I could remind them of our talks and refer back to our discussions and growth mindset phrases throughout the school year when we needed the most.

One of my favorite activities to introduce growth mindset happened on our second day of school.  I had the students write down something they felt they couldn't do, or weren't good at, or didn't like.  We wrote these statements on strips of paper in bright red ink - talking about how red ink sometimes symbolized mistakes or errors.  We then took these strips of paper and shredded them.  Each student came up one at a time and pushed their thoughts through the shredder - thinking about how they were eliminating that thinking.  This was so powerful.  My students still talk about this activity six months later.

When we finished shredding our negative thoughts we talked more in depth about growth mindset, with each student writing their thoughts down on a sticky note.  The students then worked together in small groups to come up with their best answer about what they thought growth mindset was and why it was important to have a growth mindset in our classroom this year.  Working in small groups at the beginning of the year also required them to work on their growth mindset - as many of them needed some gentle reminders on how to compromise and collaborate with their classmates.

The next day we discussed phrases that represented a fixed mindset and how we could turn that thinking around to represent a growth mindset.  Students worked in groups again to come up with alternate phrases to show a growth mindset.  They completed a collaborative sticky note response again, then created posters that showed the fixed mindset thinking as well as the growth mindset thinking.  We then took all our work and created a student-centered bulletin board to showcase our learning.  This was the perfect display to begin our year with - I was so sad when it was time to take it down.

This Stick-It-Together activity is free in my TpT store - you can grab a copy by clicking HERE.  
Because this theme has been so prevalent in our classroom this year, and is something I've had to remind my students of (more than once), I've created a few more growth mindset resources that we've used throughout the year.

This Cursive Writing Growth Mindset Resource is perfect for so many different reasons.  Each page contains a quote related to growth mindset.  Students read the quote, trace the quote in cursive, and then write the quote on their own.  They also need to explain what the quote means and make a connection to their own lives.  As we don't have "formal" cursive writing lessons as part of our curriculum (yet, I think being able to read cursive writing is such an important skill, therefore I try to sneak in practice whenever I can), this is a great way to make that cursive writing practice meaningful.  Love it.

We also included a Growth Mindset Entry in our Math Journals this year.  I really wanted to focus on changing our mindset in math after I had heard one too many "This is too hard" and "I can't do this" phrases.  You can read a little more about this entry in my blog post HERE.

This Growth Mindset Craftivity is one of my
newest resources, and I am so excited about how it came out!  This craftivity has 6 different panels - on each panel, students compare and contrast a fixed mindset with a growth mindset.  They really need to think about how to change their thinking, and reflect on how these mindsets can affect their lives.

Growth Mindset Drama Circle
And I have also made this Growth Mindset Drama Circle.  This drama circle allows the students to explore Fixed versus Growth Mindset in a fun activity, which is also a great oral fluency practice, too.

Teaching students how to change their mindset isn't a quick one-time lesson.  It is something that needs to be constantly revisited - reminding students all the time about approaching challenging tasks with optimism - and getting excited about the opportunity to learn something new and practice our skills.  We used to use the phrase "Practice makes Perfect" a lot in our class - but with our new focus on growth mindset, we've changed this phrase to "Practice makes Progress" - and I couldn't be happier about that.

How are you helping your students to embrace a growth mindset this year?  I'd love for you to share some ideas below.


  1. I love your idea for shredding the negative or fixed mindset statements. definitely something I will try. I love all your growth mindset ideas.

  2. The paper shredder idea is brilliant! I once did something like this as an adult, by writing a fear on a block of wood and then burning it! It was powerful! I can't wait to try some of these ideas! Thank you for the freebies and sharing your great ideas!
    A New Day of Learning

  3. Wow! What an amazing idea! Teaching is so much more than academics. We need to instill a positive mindset in our students. If they believe they can, they will find a way. The shredding of paper is so powerful-I'm sure it made a statement.
    I also love how you revisit this theme throughout the year using different subjects. I mainly teach math, and so often kids feel like they can't do it (really before they even try). Starting off with that attitude makes the task so much more difficult for them.
    I am planning on getting your craftivity to do with my students this week. Next school year I will follow your plan from day one. I think this will help many students. Thank you so much for your amazing ideas! :)