Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fall 2015 Update: Challenges for Weeks 8, 9, and 10

My last post covered Weeks 6 and 7 and part of 8, and in this post I'll finish up Week 8, plus Weeks 9 and 10. My guess is that as students start finishing up the class, I'll have fewer posts... but anyway, there will be at least one more post to document this semester's experiment, and maybe two. I'm labeling them: Fall15.

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One of the growth mindset challenges is an "If I ran the school" question, and this student came up with a great idea for a "major exploration class" as a type of Gen. Ed., something preferable to Gen. Ed. classes in which students have no interest at all. And what was very useful for me was that I shared this post at G+ and it provoked a pretty intense discussion with some friends of mine there! So, I am especially grateful to this student for having provoked what was, for me, a very useful discussion about Gen. Ed. It is a topic we need to talk about more, much more, IMO.

And here's another post about how important personal interest is for learning, illustrated with the bliss cat: "After thinking about it and talking with my parents, I decided to switch to International Studies. I have thoroughly enjoyed my new major and no longer feel bogged down when I have to go to class or work on assignments. I think following your passions is a very important thing to remember. I think this is the only way you can truly put forth your best effort."

And another response to the "If I ran the school" challenge: "If President Boren were to ask me to name one thing to improve education it would be to have professors that want and love to teach. If the teachers are not willing to teach very well then that defeats the purpose of growth mindset." (Yep, I agree: it's hard being someone totally dedicated to teaching at a research university, and I'm not sure how many students are aware of how big a tension that is at a school like OU.)

As always, there were some good reading and writing experiments: One person experimented with doing the reading in a different place... with nice results! (I like the idea that outside is less stern than inside.) Another student experimented with a blend of music and writing.

This student is in a novel-writing class, and she used a cat meme to get going again after some writer's block: "Sometimes learning feels so difficult, it feels like struggling. But nothing truly worth anything in life is easy to obtain, is it? And then I remember my motivations, and I write one word at a time, like one step at a time, and I am moving forward out of that so-called "muddy middle!"

Several students wrote about time management challenges and setting priorities, like here and here, which included a link to a pretty scary infographic about the effects of sleep deprivation... it does not lead to growth, that's for sure! (The time challenge is something I really want to develop into an explicit theme in the class next semester; I've gotten some good ideas for that from people's posts.)

One student found a connection between the optimism of growth mindset and a theme of faith and hope in a Sunday sermon.

Growth mindset is a big part of not just training the mind but training the body too; here's a post about an inspiring marathoner.

I liked how this student found a fellow student to inspire her: "Below is a meme that reminds me of someone who inspires me. He is in medical school and has accomplished so many things. Not only is he book smart,  he also does a lot of mission work and goes on medical mission trips to help others. This is something I dream of doing one day. Now that I saw that he can do it, I know it is possible for me to accomplish my goals one day. This meme also reminds me to be genuinely happy for the success of others."

Another one of the challenges is sharing with someone else, and I loved this post about sharing with someone who was worried about grades: "This week, I was able to share the power of the Growth Mindset idea with someone else. They were really down about their grades as it is right after midterms here at OU. I was able to encourage her because I have been in that position, but also, I was able to tell her that failing grades are not defining of your identity or character! A grade of F can simply mean "not yet" and that is perfectly alright. She seemed to be more encouraged by my words at the end of our conversation so I really hope that I was able to help her in some small way!"

Another student cheered herself up with the cha-cha cat: "Have you ever studied so hard for an exam and you get your grade back like... womp, womp, womp. That happened to me this week. Though I am certain I will still make the grade I want, it still sucks. However, I saw this meme and it made me laugh and feel better."

And here's a nice post with some thoughts about trying harder, accompanied by one of the high-climbing cats!

I am pleased to report that people found/made some great memes and materials online, too, like the ones below; I am going to have such a good harvest of items to use in the class announcements next semester thanks to all the good things people have shared this semester!

One student made this lovely poster about ambition with Automotivator:

This comes from a student who is also working with young children; she's been using growth mindset to help her!

And here's a fun one: MUCH GROWTH SO MIND

In this post someone shared Praise, a video about Carol Dweck's research.

Embrace Risk: I loved this post from someone facing new challenges at her job.

Several different versions of the wonderful "fish and tree" meme showed up, and here is a presentation I had not seen before:

And here's a cat - a big cat this time:

This student was inspired by the Star Wars infographics about growth mindset: "It was interesting to think back to the movies and realize how each character's actions fit the growth mindset and static mindset perfectly. Yoda believed that any challenge could be conquered if you had faith in yourself. There was no fear in Yoda's character, only wisdom. On the other hand, Darth Vader lashed out on the Republic and took his feedback in a negative manner. It really made me think how a different way of thinking could have two completely different outcomes. In other words, the way I perceive myself and my efforts could make me a Yoda or a Darth Vader."

Finally, this is a graphic from a previous earlier week, but since several students chose it as their favorite item from Week 8 in their review posts, I thought I would share it again here... it really is fabulous!

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