Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Final Wrap-Up for Fall 2015: Highlights from Weeks 11-15

In my previous Fall 2015 write-ups, I was sharing the blog posts with the students as a way for them to connect and explore each other's blogs... now, though, the class is over, so in this final wrap-up post, I won't be linking to blogs; instead, I'll just share a few of the highlights from the students' growth mindset contributions and observations during the last few weeks of the class. I was so excited to see that some of the students said that learning about growth mindset was one of the most important take-aways from the class!

So, here are some growth mindset highlights from Weeks 11-15 of the class:

Find Your Own Way. Thoughts from a college senior looking back on school: "I chose this meme for this week's Growth Mindset assignment because it relates to my time here at OU. During the first couple of semesters, I was often found myself placing more importance on "fitting in" and living up the "college experience" than on my studies. As a result, I had two semesters were my grades suffered badly. Once I realized what was happening, I prioritized and starting focusing more on my school work. Looking back on it, jeopardizing my classes by constantly worrying about fitting in was stupid. In fact, if everyone was on the exact same path, life would be extremely boring. It is amazing what opportunities life gives you when you start walking down your own path. This is something that I try to think about from time to time to make sure that I'm still on the right path."

Feedback. For many students, this is the first time they have ever received (or given) detailed writing feedback. I was really glad for what this student said: "In the past, I had a knee-jerk reaction to take any critique personally. Instead of seeing constructive criticism as a learning tool and as help from a trusted source, I harbored on my own imperfections. At times, this attitude prevented me from doing something just because I didn't think that I could do it perfectly!  This class has begun to change that mindset. By keeping Growth Mindset strategies in mind, I have endeavored to take each suggestion and compliment as a learning tool. Laura's emails with story revisions have especially helped me! I have found that, by acknowledging both my strengths and weaknesses, I can continually grow and learn. Then, by implementing those lessons, I can produce things that I am even more proud of!"

Friends. This is one of my favorite memes, so I was glad a student could connect with it in such a positive way: "This week one my best friends, Justin, who is also in this class go into his first medical school! I couldn't help but be so happy! We have a really good group of friends and when we found out we were all so happy for him! This is a great achievement for our group of friends."

Comfort Zone. I'm always glad to hear about venturing outside the comfort zone: "So this week I played around with my writing style. I normally write very deep and serious stories. This week I wanted to play around with something more playful. I wanted to explore characters that are already developed. That is why I focused on How I Met Your Mother. It is one of my favorite shows and I know it was an inspiration for someone who did a storytelling assignment in years past. I had a lot of fun doing it. It was completely out of my comfort zone." And here's another comfort zone comment: "I am proud of how I was able to set out of my comfort zone and deep learn about something I had no knowledge on. This prompts me with a question what other areas am I unaware of. How can I broaden my knowledge and mind to encompass them? The crazy thing is this class I didn't just learn about the epics of India. I learned about growth mindset, how to explain technology to people, and the importance of reflections."

Hard, not Easy. Likewise, embracing what is hard is a big part of growing! "I really love this meme! I hear very often that the best things in life are the ones that you worked the hardest for. The same thing with college. I am always complaining about how hard it is but even if I did have the choice to go back in time I would still come to college because I know that in the end it will be worth it."

NaNoWriMo. One of my students participated in NaNoWriMo this year! "With NaNoWriMo, and working on that every day, I am constantly challenging myself. Each time I challenge myself I am reminded of Growth Mindset. ... Thank you, Growth Mindset! Without you, I don't know if I'd get here."

Looking forward. Another meme reflection: "For this week I looked at memes again. Last week's meme really got me thinking and so I wanted to do some more exploring. This one really stuck out.I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about where I'd like to go post-graduation. I'm not exactly sure of what I want to do and I've been struggling with that. With the growth mindset I know that I just need to learn from what I'm doing and how I'm feeling and set up goals and a path to understand where I want to be in a few months.  I need to think about the big picture and how I'm going to get there. This helps me in school and in life. I'd like to have a successful semester and I will do so by learning from my mistakes of this past semester and keep growing from there."

The Power of Practice. I really liked the comments from one of my students who is a business major (an international student from China! it was great having his perspective in class this semester): "If my goal is to shake this world by coding skills, I think I need to practice millions of times. It looks scary; however, when we think about practice 100 times a day, one year means 36500 times. If I keep going, I will eventually become the 1% of programmers."

Steps. Lots of students picked this meme during the semester; it definitely resonates. Here's what one student remarked: "To start anything meaningful in life is hard work and it all starts from somewhere. That’s why I think it’s important to decide where you want to go and start today on getting there even if it’s not much. The “waiting around” is what kills people, which is why I plan on starting with my “small steps” straight out of college while I have the drive and the freedom to do so."

Mrs. Bean: Chase Your Dreams. I was so glad that a student made a connection with Mrs. Bean (a cat who belongs to a friend of mine): "As my schooling comes to an end I will still keep learning and chasing my dreams." In a separate blog post this same student observed: "I think my most valuable take away from this class was the growth mindset. it made me look at school in a new way. I wish that I would have known about it sooner so that I could have spent more time learning instead of worrying about grades."

Other Classes. I was really glad when students used growth mindset to approach other classes, esp. classes that might be more stressful than this one! For example: "I was fascinated by the growth Mindset from the beginning of this class. When I saw this picture, I had to choose this to write. Growth Mindset is an excellent idea. It focuses on not yet, rather than you failed. It gives hope and motivation to work harder and not give up. This has been a motivation for me in several classes this semester. When I didn’t achieve the score I wanted, I tried to get a better score next time by applying this method."

And more memes made by / shared by students! (The cats above are the ones I include in the announcements, different cat each day.)

This is a meme a student made back in the early weeks of the semester is still making the rounds as a student favorite, showing up in blogs at the end of the semester too! (This student has a bulldog of his own too!)

This student re-did one of my cat memes with a picture of her own kitty:

About dreaming big, one student said: "With dreaming big I think it's important that you dare and anticipate failing. What I took away from the poster is that, failing is what comes with the experience. No one is perfect and it's always good to learn from your mistakes. You can't expect to reach your dreams without hard work and a possible difficult journey!"

And the students shared lots of good motivators; here are some of them:

Earlier in the semester, a student had shared this ant meme before but with a different text; I like this one too!

And it is comments like this that convinced me to expand growth mindset into other kinds of success strategies! "Side note...this class is awesome and has helped me so much in many other areas in life other than just mythology. Doing assignments for this class actually helps me to de-stress."

Finally, I really appreciated learning from this student about a religion class she took: "I have this one class called Religion, Culture, and the Meaning of Life, and while it is probably the most interesting class I took this semester it is also probably the most challenging. This class poised a lot of challenge because it was such an introspective class. But it was exciting because I felt like I really got to flesh out my personal opinions on a lot of things. I think that this kind of personal growth is something that everyone should have to do at some point or another because it makes you grow as a person. I think that having problems that force you to look into yourself for the answers really can make everything in your classes seem easier somehow. Like as long as you know yourself you can make it through anything else." — and she shared this graphic:

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