THE LEARNING DIP- PART 1-
GROWING YOUR BRAIN
PART 1- 5 MINUTES
- Research has shown that students who hold a Growth Mindset perform better than those with a Fixed Mindset, especially under conditions of challenge (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007).
- When students are taught that the brain develops and gets smarter with effort and learning, they become more motivated in school and perform better (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007; Good, Aronson, & Inzlicht, 2003.)
By the end of this part of the "LEARNING DIP" course, learners should understand:
- Intelligence can be developed
- The brain is malleable
- Doing challenging work is the best way to make the brain stronger and smarter
PART 2- WATCH AND DISCUSS EACH CLIP AS A CLASs
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why does Mojo want to leave school? Can you sometimes relate to this feeling? What does Katie say to Mojo to convince him not to leave? What area of your life at school (or at home) do you feel frustrated by sometimes? Can you see yourself becoming smarter or improving in that area? How?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What does the quote, "mistakes can make you smarter" mean to you? How can we learn from our mistakes? Talk about a specific, recent example. If you were building a robot, struggling with a maths problem or learning an instrument and kept "failing,” what would you do?
FOCUS ON LEARNING FROM MISTAKES THIS WEEK
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should you do if you are stuck on a project, math problem, or other learning (teacher can choose a specific situation)? Think of a time you were afraid to ask for help. Why did you feel afraid? Why is the word "yet" so powerful? Think of a "yet" moment in your life and discuss it with your partner!
FOCUS ON ASKING FOR HELP THIS WEEK
RESEARCH QUESTION: What are neurons and how do we make connections between our neurons?
APPLICATION: Think of an example where you made some new connections in your brain. What were you doing? What can you do this week to make some new connections? Set one specific goal.
FOCUS ON SEEKING NEW CHALLENGES THIS WEEK.
PART 3- COMPLETE 1, 2 OR 3 OF THE FOLLOWING LEARNING ACTIVITIES
Teacher instructions: Student may be asked to complete all activities, teachers can choose the most relevant activity, or students could be given a choice about how to demonstrate their own learning through the activities below. An estimate of the time commitment for each task is included in brackets- use as a guide only, but allow students in your class the time they need to do a great job of the task at hand, rather than rushing them through to the next task.
Learning Activity 1: Growth vs. Fixed Mindset Poster- teachers decide if this would work best with your group as a whole class activity, or small group activity. (1 or 2 lessons)
Students are to make a two-column poster on the beliefs and behaviors of a growth mindset and how it compares to a fixed mindset. Explain that you can have a fixed mindset in one domain and a growth mindset in another - they aren’t necessarily black and white concepts. Urge students to map out how beliefs influence behaviors which ultimately lead to results.
If they need scenarios to help them brainstorm, use the examples below or create your own! What are the behaviors/thoughts of people that believe intelligence can be developed when:
• ...they put a lot of effort into practicing for a basketball game but still lose?
• ...they don’t understand what they are learning in math class?
• ...they are not putting any effort into a project but got an A anyway?
Use this poster as a reference throughout the year to help students recognize when they have a fixed mindset and to give them ideas on methods to shift towards a growth mindset.
Learning Activity 2: Research Project- teachers decide if this would work best with your group as a small group activity or independent task. (2 or 3 lessons)
Using the guidelines below, get students to make a project on how the brain grows as it struggles to learn something new.
Ask students to create a poster, painting, video or Powerpoint presentation to demonstrate how the brain works. Students choose whichever method works best for them, or the teacher can choose.
Here is one student-friendly resource from Brainology to get them started on the "research". The article on pages 1-3 is a brief overview of the science behind the growth mindset.
Each project must at least answer these questions.
• What is neuroplasticity and how does it work?
• What are neurons? How can they change over time? How do we know this?
• What are ways of making your brain grow?
• What is a growth mindset?
Students- be sure to include evidence to back up your claims (ex. Are there studies that show this? Don’t forget to cite your sources!). Be creative and scientific when explaining how learning can help develop the brain.
Display these projects around your room and refer to them throughout the year as motivation and a friendly reminder about the brain’s plasticity.
Learning Activity 3: Letter to a future student of this class (1 lesson or 30 minutes)
Take a few minutes to think of a time when you overcame a struggle to learn something. It could be anything - from adding negative numbers to learning a technique in basketball to writing an introduction for a difficult essay. Reflect on the times when you failed at first, but through perservering your brain created new neural connections and you eventually became better at the task at hand.
Write a letter to a future student of your class about this struggle. In at least five sentences, tell this student your story and give them advice on what they should do next time they encounter an obstacle when learning something new.