Image via Reid Wilson

As regular readers know, I’m a big proponent of helping our students learn about a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”).

One of my most popular posts this year was about a growth mindset lesson I did with my IB Theory of Knowledge students (see I Did My Best Job Teaching A “Growth Mindset” Today – Here’s The Lesson Plan and Here’s What My Students Think Of A Growth Mindset).

This week, my colleague and co-author Katie Hull (see our new book, Navigating The Common Core With English Language Learners) and I decided to modify it substantially and teach it to our English Language Learners.

Katie had used adapted a growth mindset lesson from one of my three student motivation books earlier in the year with her advanced ELL class. However, I had not yet figured out a good way to teach it to my Beginner/Early Intermediate class. We decided we could spend three days doing a lesson that would refresh her students’ memory, introduce the concept to my students, and provide excellent English language-learning opportunities to everybody.

Here’s what we did:


Katie reminded her students about the growth mindset concept by introducing the graphic at the top of this post and which you can print out at Reid Wilson’s blog. Students reviewed it and then each wrote a short story about when they applied a growth mindset to their lives. She explained that they would help my students the next day learn about a growth mindset, share their stories, and help them write their own. She assigned each of her students to be a teacher to one of the students in my class.


I brought my students over to Katie’s room. They entered one-by-one and were welcomed by their “teacher” to a seat next to them. I then quickly introduced the growth mindset by saying – in English and Spanish:

“Growth mindset means you look at life in a positive way – you look at problems as opportunities to learn and grow and not as obstacles. You also believe that you are not born with a fixed intelligence — that you can be what you want through effort.”

I then explained that we would watch three short videos that would demonstrate an element of a growth mindset. My students job would be to write down what those elements were, and their “teachers” would help them write in English.

The videos were the same I used in my IB lesson:

We paused after each one, asked my students to share (with the help of her students), and Katie wrote down these responses:


Katie then shared the growth mindset graphic at the top of this post and explained the differences to the entire class, with her students helping mine to understand them. She then asked each of her students to share the story they had written about when they had applied a growth mindset in their lives. She asked my students to think about, and tell their “teachers” about a similar incident in their lives. She further explained that they would write about it the next day.

To wrap up the day, I then distributed this positive self-talk sheet that can be found in our ELL and the Common Core book, which the advanced ELLs helped my students to complete and practice.


My students spent twenty minutes in my classroom working on drawing and writing about the story they had told their student “teachers” the previous day. I then brought them over to Katie’s class where their teachers helped them complete writing their story. As students completed them, I would bring them down to the computer lab where they would type them in a Word document.

Here’s a photo of some of them working together:



After school that day, I tweeted about an interaction I had with one of my students:


Today, both classes when to the library where they copied and pasted their stories into the comments section of our class blog. In addition, Katie’s students helped my students leave comments about the stories shared there. You can read all of them here (a few students still have to complete posting them).

It went very, very well. In fact, it went so well that Katie and I are planning to do similar lessons where her advanced ELLs teacher mine every other week. We’re kicking ourselves about not doing this earlier in the year but – better late than never!