In February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post was originally published in 2016:

As regular readers know, I’m a big believer in teaching and implementing strategies to promote a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”). Plus, you can find additional related lesson plans in my books.

Today, I tried a new version with my IB Theory of Knowledge classes that went very well. In fact, I think it’s the best one I’ve ever done, and it’s very simple.

Here’s what I did:

Students came in to the class finding the phrase “Growth Mindset” on the overhead. I asked people to raise their hand if they had every heard of it before today. A fair number had, since we have a big focus on Social Emotional Learning at our school. I explained that the class today would be a refresher for them and an introduction to those who didn’t know much about it.

I explained that I was going to show three videos (happily, none were blocked by The Best Ways To Deal With YouTube’s Awful Safety Mode).  Each video, I said, would illustrate elements of having a growth mindset.  I told them I wanted to write down on a sheet of paper what elements they saw exhibited in the video and how they were demonstrated.

Here were the videos I showed (I gave students a minute to write after each video, every other row of students would move up one seat after each clip to share with a partner, and I would then ask a few students to say what they wrote to the entire class). These videos and more can be found at The Best TV/Movie Scenes Demonstrating A “Growth Mindset” – Help Me Find More:

Here’s the combined list of Growth Mindset qualities both of my classes developed:


Then, after I gave students a very quick introduction to Carol Dweck and shared a story about my meeting a person who worked with Gandhi who told me that the key to Gandhi’s success was “that he looked at every problem as an opportunity, not as a pain in the butt,” I gave students copies of this NPR report, Students’ View of Intelligence Can Help Grades.  I had them rotate again, alternate reading paragraphs out loud with their partner, and then write a paragraph responding to this prompt:

According to Carol Dweck, what is a “growth mindset” and why is it important? Do you agree with what Dweck is saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and any of your readings (including this article).

After they wrote their paragraphs, they rotated again and read them to their partner. I called up one student to share it on the overhead and had them read their piece to the class (I’ll actually be publishing a sample of them on this blog over the weekend).

Then, I showed the well-known “Two Mindsets” diagram on the overhead, quickly reviewed it, and told an example from my life for three on the list — challenges (changing careers to become a teacher); obstacles (explaining how I lost the game for my basketball team this week but I didn’t quit the team and, instead, plan on practicing my shooting this weekend) and criticism (how I learned a lot from the anonymous class evaluations students did of my last week). After writing a few words about each one on the growth mindset side of the diagram, I explained that I was going to give students copies and wanted them to think and briefly about when they had exhibited those growth mindset qualities in their own lives. We were running short of time by then, so I only gave them a few minutes, explaining that they didn’t have to write something about every one of the qualities.

We rotated again, students shared with a partner, followed by my calling on a few students to share what they wrote.

Then, with only a few minutes left in the period, I told students that at the top of the growth mindset side of the diagram, I wanted them to write as many adjectives as they could think of that would describe how they felt during and after the moments they acted with a growth mindset. My example was that I felt “confident” in myself after successfully changing careers.

I finished-up by calling on some students (though, in my second class, I had enough time to have everyone share), and got a ton of great words, including inspired, strong, delighted, successful, etc.

It went very, very well. I’ll still do my other growth mindset lesson plans (those are designed for English Language Learners and for ninth-grade students facing challenges), but this one is a big winner, too!

Feedback is welcome!