Friday, October 30, 2015

English: Even geniuses have to work hard.

The quote comes from Carol Dweck's Mindsets: Even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements.

The image is from cheezburger.

Even geniuses have to work hard.

Monday, October 26, 2015

English: Don't be fooled by first impressions!

A friend at Google+ shared this post with me, and I found it very helpful:

The cognitive biases that are killing your decisions by Jory Mackay.

From the post: "In our minds, the first bit of information we take in does hold special sway. The Anchoring cognitive bias is our tendency to rely heavily on our first impressions (or ‘anchor’ information) when making a decision. Once the anchor has been set, other judgments are made by adjusting away from that anchor without taking into consideration other viewpoints."


Don't be fooled by first impressions!

This image is from cheezburger.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

English: Growth can happen in leaps and bounds.

A friend at Google+ shared this post with me, and I found it very helpful:

The cognitive biases that are killing your decisions by Jory Mackay.

This is a quote from the post: "Maintaining a growth mindset isn’t a matter of walking up a staircase one small step at a time. Most often, personal growth happens in leaps and bounds—more like jumping between floors on a trampoline."

Of course, sometimes growth can happen staircase step-by-step, but it can also happen in leaps and bounds. I'm not sure if it "most often" that growth happens this way as the author claims, but what a nice feeling that is when growth does come in the form of a big leap!

The image is from cheezburger.

Growth can happen in leaps and bounds.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

English: Yes, I can!

This cat is in honor of Laura Ritchie's great essay: Yes I Can: Self-efficacy. And you can see more self-efficacy cats here: #YesICan Cats.

Just one great quote among many: "Self-belief is at the core, but is not enough. It is backed up with skills and the practical accomplishments that demonstrate the reality that actually, yes, you can do something."

Yes, I can!

The image is from cheezburger.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fall 2015 Update: Week 6 and Week 7 Challenges + Week 8 Reflections

Here is my write-up on the Week 6 and Week 7 growth mindset challenges that my students did (see earlier posts about Weeks 2/3 and Weeks 4/5 plus the start of the semester): very inspiring stuff! In addition, there are some comments here from the Week 8 Reflections posts; I really liked the way that growth mindset emerged in those posts as a kind of class "theme" even for students who have not been doing growth mindset challenges each week.

Here are some of those challenges people worked on:

Time challenges. Lack of time and time management challenges are the most commonly recurring topic, as here for example. The problem is that scarcity of time (like poverty) becomes a terrible trap: you don't have time to find a way out of your lack of time. Consider this student's remark about not having time to do growth challenges: I think it’s a good idea to challenge yourself, but I’m just trying to make it out of this semester alive.

One student learned how to use Cheezburger (yes!) to make this meme about wanting to get more sleep:

Another student shared this picture of time as she concluded that her biggest challenge across all classes is time management:

Writing challenges. Luckily, doing a growth challenge doesn't have to take more time. Students are already doing writing for this class, and the challenge can be to try a new style or a new writing process strategy, like this person trying first-person style, or this person doing story-within-a-story style, while this person worked on writing shorter (which for many people — including me! — is harder than writing something long).

Reading challenges. I am also excited that some people are trying reading challenges! One student read in a new genre, and another student did a reading out loud challenge.

Blogging. I thought this was so cool: a student who has her own food blog — HappyHealthyNoms — blogged about growth mindset there, and here's what she wrote about thatI hadn't heard of Growth Mindset before this class, and it has really helped me a lot. It's an important thought process, and I hope by sharing it on my other blog, that it can help others!

More about blogging. I am excited that this student now sees the power of blogging for growth and learning: I thought of this while day dreaming in my biology lecture the other day. As I was thinking about taking notes, I thought to myself, wouldn't it be really cool to create a blog for each class. Everything will be organized by date, would have a heading, and you can access it anywhere because all you need is a link. You would no longer have to email yourself the document to view it on another computer. 

Connecting classes. This student explains how growth mindset can be applied across classesI definitely think that my mindset has changed in this class and I have been able to apply that to my other classes as well, which is so freaking cool!! And something similar from this student:  I actually have been practicing the growth mindset things I read. I've been trying various types of studying for this class and even others.

Speaking in class. Speaking up in class can be really hard, especially in a foreign language class (I used to teach language classes, so I know!) Here is what a student did in French class: I am very proud of myself this week. I actually spoke in front of my class the other day. Not only that, but I spoke in French! This is a big deal for me. I can read and interpret French perfectly, but speaking it is another thing. I have recently been practicing on an app I downloaded on my iPad and it makes me read stories aloud. I was very excited when I finished speaking French, and my teacher was impressed! I guess you cannot succeed unless you try!

... and, even better, that blog post about the French class challenged another student: As I was scrolling through this week's growth mindset posts, this post caught my eye. I think what made it important was that this was someone's success story with the growth mindset. It goes to show that you don't know what you're capable of once you try it. In this student's case, she never spoke in French in her class, but she finally did. I want to overcome my own inhibitions and gain something from it, just like this student! I don't really like to speak up in class, so I want to push myself to participate more in my class discussions with my professors in the future! 

Talking to others. Growth mindset is not just for college classes, of course, and this student talked to her mom, who is a teacher, about growth mindset, and to some other teachers as well. Here is what she found out: Some had already learned about this and said that they loved the concept, but sometimes it is hard to do in a classroom. Something about the amount of time in a class room and sometimes things like standardized testing get in the way. 

Beyond school. Growth mindset is also not just about learning in school. One student wrote about learning handy work from his dad, while another student wrote about teaching band.

Mindset as habit. It was also reassuring to learn that promoting growth mindset is useful even for those students who already have adopted those habits, as this student explainsI haven't been doing any of the growth mindset challenges. This class has been a pretty good opportunity to practice the mindset habits though. As I said in my original Growth Mindset post, this is a strategy that I have kind of discovered on my own over the last decade or so. I enjoy being able to learn, especially if it comes from any sort of failure. I like to know that I can still be challenged.

Encouragement. It makes me really happy that the growth mindset concept can give students the encouragement they need, as this student explains: I had heard of Carol Dweck and her theory before, but I had never actually applied it to my own life. I have only completed two growth mindset blog posts, but the idea of growth mindset has been in the back of my mind all semester. At a time when everything has seemed completely out of control, those challenges have actually been a blessing—something I never thought I would say about a class assignment.

Asking for help. Here is my favorite challenge story of the week — it is not easy to ask for help, and one student faced that challenge head-onWhen I'm not working at a high level, I am really hard on myself. In the past, no matter how hard things got, I was completely unwilling to ask for help from anyone, including instructors. This semester, I've started to see that this doesn't do anything but make things worse for myself. This past week, I asked for an extension for the first time in my college career. Even knowing that I had a very, very valid reason, I still felt a little bit ashamed. But, I asked. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but it really is to me. I asked for help at a really crucial time. I ASKED. Before, I would have seen it as a failure. Today, I see it as a roar.

Reflecting on memes. In addition to finding and making their own memes (see below), some students reflected on memes that show up in the class announcements. It's really helpful for me to see which of those class announcement memes people connect with!

Small steps. I really identify with this cat. Little steps, baby kitten. Little steps. And another student remarked about this kitten: Each week I have focused on something that I want to improve on so that I can have overall improvement.

Not knowing. I like it because some times I feel like we get discouraged when we don't know how to do something. We should not get discouraged though because doing things that we do not know how to do is the only way we can learn to do them.

Making mistakes. I really liked this meme for this weeks growth mindset, because it made me think about my great grandma. My great grandma used to always tell me "Baby you were created to make mistakes. However, the decisions that you make after those mistakes, is what creates your mind". I never really understood what she meant until I listen to the TedX Talk about growth mindset.  

Failure. My favorite type of positive reinforcement, I have come to find, is cute, funny, and motivational little memes. Positivefail thinking is key! So, like this cute little meme I found says, it really hurts to fail but it doesn't mean YOU are a failure. You just have to keep trying again and again. 

Difficult is not impossible. The Storybook project is probably the best showcase for this. It is a project that is small enough that I can actually finish, and isn't so overwhelming that I can't tackle it on a weekly basis. I'm excited about it, excited to work on it, excited to receive feedback and make it better. There is always room for improvement and it has a ripple effect into everything else you write.

Worth it. I think this really stood out to me because it applies to me in one of my classes this semester. This class was said to be extremely hard. Right now, I am only holding on to the fact that a lot of people said it would be worth it in the end. 

Look boldly ahead. I will miss this class when it is over, but the tools learned will always come in handy. Feeling stumped in writing? Rewrite something you like! Rewrite something you don't like so that you do like it! Understanding what makes things work and not work is a big part of being able to tell a compelling story.

And below you will find the various memes and infographics that the students found or made and included in their posts, and by saving them here I will be able to re-use them in future classes: what one student connects with will probably speak to other students too! Students also explored different kinds of resources. For example, one student found a YouTube video about Steve Jobs and growth mindset, and another student found a Carol Dweck quote that she really liked.

~ ~ ~

Reflections. As I was creating my meme for this week's growth mindset, I decided to base it off of something that was relevant to my life. Sometimes, I look at the past negatively; decisions I've made, tests I've failed, etc. However, I think that sometimes the past can inspire you for the future.

Ingenuity. This infographic shows the process of being a genius which involves much more than just intelligence. In fact, intelligence isn't even listed in the graphic. Instead, ingenuity takes inspiration, perspiration, improvisation, aspiration, contemplation, exploration, daily frustrations, imitation, desperation, and pure elation. 

Great things. This spoke to me as I've been working on a side project recently. Each day bit by bit it improves and is refined. I'm having conversations with people about features and how to create a better experience. I am seeing "a series of small things" being "brought together" to create this incredible tool. For me, sometimes starting small helps to get everything started and going. Approaching everything from a large perspective can be difficult at times. It's good to see the big picture. It is also good to get started with the small things.

Niche. Everyone has their own niche. If everybody were really good at the same thing, not only would life be really boring, but nothing would really get done.

 The red dot! I would like to feel less overwhelmed on the second half of this semester. I’ve been taking it as it comes. I’d like to be able to have more control over my schedule for the rest of the semester.

Negative thinking. Perspective is a huge part of growth mindset. You have to be aware of your surroundings in order to succeed. Knowing what is happening and how you are feeling and why are huge aspects of succeeding. Don't give up, look at the big picture.

Creating. I will not even try to summarize how this student got from Caesar to creating and Grumpy Cat - just read the post! :-)

You can do it! Although I haven't completed many growth mindset challenges this semester, the messages have stuck with me.  I have worked hard to reframe my successes and failures in such a way that inspires growth instead of stagnation or resignation.  I continually remind myself that by returning to school, I've already overcome my past failure. Being a returning student doesn't make me a failure. It shows my hard work and determination to return despite obstacles.  

Keep moving forward! I would say that this class has been a good opportunity to practice the growth mindset activities.  If I do the work, I get a good grade but I also have to revise the work, and continue to improve my writing every week. 


And another motivator from the world of nature: Believe in yourself.

What can I say to myself? Now I have a new way to frame my problems. Instead of putting myself down and thinking that I don't have what it takes, I try to use what I know to attempt the problem. All I need is a little faith in myself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Everyone is born with an intense desire to learn.

This is quote from Carol Dweck's book Mindset: "Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn."

Dweck says "drive," but I changed it to "desire" because the LMS my school uses is D2L, formerly known as Desire2Learn.

Everyone is born with an intense desire to learn.

Unfortunately, instead of cultivating that desire to learn, school often stifles it instead. So, get in touch with your inner child, and let that desire to learn grow!

The image is from cheezburger.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Latin: Lege: sapere aude.

The image is from cheezburger. The phrase "sapere aude" comes from the poet Horace, and you can read more about it at this Wikipedia article.

Lege: sapere aude.
Read: dare to know.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fall 2015 Update: Week 4 and Week 5 Challenges

I've shared previously updates from Week 1, and then from Weeks 2 and 3 of my classes this semester, and here is an update for Weeks 4 and 5.

As I mentioned last time, I am really happy that any students at all are doing the growth mindset challenges because they are "extras" on top of the regular reading and writing for this class. In Weeks 4 and 5, four new students tried doing growth mindset challenges who had not done them before, so that is encouraging — if there are just a couple of new students each week who give this a try, I will be pleased! So far, one-third of the class has tried at least one growth mindset challenge since learning about growth mindset back in the first week. In addition to completing the actual growth mindset challenges, students will sometimes mention growth mindset in other posts for the class (like here, here, here, here and here) which I think is great to see, and it also means more students in the class might catch the idea that way as well.

And now, here's the good part: highlights from the growth challenge posts the students wrote over the past couple of weeks! You can see the stream here: Growth Posts.

Learning More. This great post is a student's response to an article by Nicholas Provenzano: Creativity in the Classroom. I agree very much with her closing comments here: "I really admire this teacher for investing so much of his time and resources to encourage creativity in his students. Nowadays, school curriculum focuses mainly on passing standardized exams and maintaining a high GPA. How can anyone be creative when students are taught to think the same? Study this book. Pass the test. Move forward. Does a score on an exam really define an individual? Why must we quantify everything? Several questions popped into my head as I read the article, but my main question is why aren't more educators teaching growth mindset?"

I shared her post with Nicholas Provenzano at Twitter (he's one of those Twitter celebrities I have never interacted with before!), and he was very pleased as you can see:

The Power of Yet. This student is using the "power of yet" to try to manage her anxiety about an accounting class: read her post. I think that's great; I don't learn well at all when I am under stress, and I am sure that is true for others as well. Using the power of "yet" and positive self-talk to shift from a focus on grades to the learning itself seems like a great strategy to me! She included this funny grumpy cat meme in the post too. I know there are classes out there that do make people cry, but a meme can be a humorous antidote, and humor is very good for relieving stress.

And here's another post from a student dealing with some major stress this semester; I am really glad that growth mindset can be a help in finding ways to cope!

And for the "power of yet" this student created a motivational poster as her challenge:

Favorite Meme. One of the challenges is to take a growth mindset meme (from the class announcements, from Pinterest, anywhere at all) and write some thoughts about it. I was really glad that a student picked this growth mindset cat to write about; I wish I could wave a magic wand to make everyone unafraid for exactly the reasons the student discusses here: "Failure is what teaches us new things, so why do we we fear it? We should all take that leap of faith and take action instead of running away from our problems. Maybe once we get started, we realized it wasn't so bad after all, and finally... maybe we will learn something new."

Another student wrote about a meme that helped her with some academic challenges in other classes: "This meme spoke to my soul this weekend as I looked back on how much I have struggled through the past two weeks! Having 200 points out of a thousand total in the past couple of weeks for one of my classes, all in the form of exams or quizzes, definitely tested my mindset! But I worked really hard to make sure that I didn't look at anything I was doing through a fixed mindset, but rather a growth mindset! I loved this meme and I will definitely bring it to mind if I struggle in the week to come! Plus who doesn't love a cat meme?!"

During the Review week posts, students pick out a favorite items from the past week's announcements; they often pick one of the growth mindset cats, and last week several people picked this particular cat. Here is what one student commented: "I just love this meme from the Class Announcements! I have found a lot of inspiration from the cat memes related to growth mindset this week, as I have needed quite a bit of motivation this weekend to get my stuff together and do what I need to do!"

Make a Meme. Many of the students are making dog memes since, of course, there is already a steady supply of cat memes from yours truly. So here is a meme with a Saint Bernard puppy; she used a tool called GroupMe which is new to me, so I learned something new too (it's a group text message app). Here is what she says about her meme: "My meme says "Big Dreams Start with Baby Steps." I chose this caption because people tend to forget that there was always a beginner before there was an expert. The hardest part of any challenge is actually starting it. My brother has always told me that once you get past the beginning, then the hardest part is over. I'm the type of person that is afraid of change, but I always need change. It's complicated. I believe that everyone should have a dream or something that excites you. Chase after that dream even if it seems impossible. All it takes is determination, passion, and some baby steps."

Writing Challenge. A student in the class wrote a new kind of story this week as a personal challenge... and she chose a storytelling style that I absolutely love, a cumulative tale. You can read her post and see a link to her story here: The Little Witch's Mabon. Another student experimented with his reading diary (read his post here); in the end, he decided to stick with the style he was using before, but trying out a new style purely as an experiment is great. You don't know until you try!

Editing Challenge. One student had a story that was really long (really really long), and so I suggested she use the growth mindset challenge as an opportunity to practice some new kinds of revising focused on shortening the story to make it really sharp and focused. She had a very positive experience with that, even though it was an "outside of the comfort zone" writing experience for her (here is her post), and based on her good experience with that, I added the "revising challenge" to the growth mindset challenge list, in addition to the writing challenge that was already there.

If You Ran the School. I was so excited that a student picked this challenge to think about how a school could be run differently to help promote growth mindset. The problem, as he sees it, is grading: "Sometimes I think we just come to school to get graded. I mean is that not the goal it get good grades and then leave. I think that is a trap that many of us fall into here at a big university. We just try to get our grade and then move on but we never take the time to really learn. If I could change one thing about it would be taking a step away from grades and moving more towards learning. Sometimes that is lost in our large classes and that a shame because I love learning but I hate getting graded. It makes me dislike school because I am afraid I will get something wrong, when in reality I should be happy that I tried something new." (I agree absolutely; students hate being graded and I suspect there are a lot of teachers how, like me, hate giving grades too!)

Another student used this meme as a prompt for reflections about school: "You have the students that may have a better sense of what to do in the job force, but because I may have a higher GPA in a field than they do (because they may be bad at taking tests, but, in fact, they are much more well-versed in the material than I) I may get the job over them. I believe that there is a problem with our school system, but also a problem with what we tell students their priorities should be."

Growth Mindset... Seen Elsewhere. I am really excited when I hear from students about intersections with growth mindset elsewhere. This student wrote about seeing a growth mindset poster that came through her Facebook feed this week, and she saved it and shared it in her blog: "This reminded me of my struggle to change my mindset when it comes to my classes and even though this is made for elementary aged school children, I found the signs really helpful!"

Talking about Mindset. I really enjoy the blog posts by students who do the challenge of finding someone to have a conversation with, sharing ideas about growth mindset. This student talked with a friend about growth mindset being used in schools (here is the full post): "I then talked to her about how useful it would be if the education system taught with a growth mindset and consistently challenged students."

Successful Experiment. Finally, some observations from a student's "famous last words" post, a self-reflection post that they can write each week. This post alone makes the growth mindset experiment this semester totally worth it: "My favorite assignments for this class are the growth mindset posts. I like to explore more about growth mindset. Believe it or not, it has affected my life more than I can imagine."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Latin: Quaerendo invenietis.

The image is from cheezburger. Being curious and seeking solutions is an important part of the growth mindset!

Quaerendo invenietis.
Seek, and you will find.