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May 13, 2019

Finishing the School Year Strong with a Growth Mindset

By Kathleen Charlson

Students build a growth mindset using social-emotional learning.

Grades 6–8, 9–12

    Key Takeaways 

    • Display student work in a community space to promote shared learning 
    • Encourage opportunities to share SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) with peers 
    • Make personal connections to nonfiction text to deepen understanding and increase engagement 

    Spring is in the air… which sometimes makes it difficult to stay focused in class as the school year hits its final stretch. To get students heading in the right direction after spring break, I often rely on engaging non-fiction to create personal connections to the material we need to be learning. 

    In the March 4th issue of Scholastic ScienceWorld, “Push to the Finish,” tells the story of a boy named Noah, who takes his disabled brother with him as he competes in triathlons. This article gave us the perfect opportunity to talk about having a growth mindset, the concept of how to develop the skills and intelligence necessary to persevere through challenges. 

    We began our lesson by reading the article and watching the short video included, called Triathlon Bros. While reading, I often use the essential and core questions provided in the article to check for understanding. Asking students to make connections to kids like Noah and his brother, Lucas, who was born with a rare neurological condition, allows for deeper, more personal learning. Many students commented on their relationships with their siblings, and how amazing it was that Noah still includes Lucas when the circumstances are so difficult. (I also think a number of students now want to compete in a triathlon!) 

    Next, I handed out a writing and personal development worksheet “Mindset Matters,” included in ScienceWorld’s Teaching Resources. This activity encouraged them to reflect on tough situations they may experience in their learning both inside and outside of school. Once students completed their personal growth statements, they chose their best statement by putting a star next to it. 

    Students then wrote their chosen statement on a colorful piece of paper, cut it out, and hung it in the hallway next to the fixed mindset statement with which it corresponds. This created a striking visual that brightened the hallway and showcased the growth mindset of our students—the perfect reminder as we go into our final months of the school year. 

    Opportunities to share their ideas, whether it is displayed in the hallway, in our classroom, or online, gives students empowerment and voice among their peers. I underestimated how much my students liked cutting and taping their work up for all to see—they had fun! I love seeing kids’ pride in their own ideas and work.

    Don’t stop with just this story. ScienceWorld is full of other articles that can be used to promote a growth mindset. One of my other favorites is this story, “Linebacker With No Limits,” about a one-handed NFL star. Another is “Puzzle Solver.” It tells the story of Max Park, a Rubik’s Cube-style puzzle solver with autism. I hope you enjoy! 

    For similar ideas on using science stories to promote learning and engagement, you can try ScienceWorld in your classroom. You’ll get magazines for every student, Teacher’s Guides, activity sheets, experiments and digital resources like videos and multiple reading levels. You can even try the magazine FREE for 30 days and discover the many ways ScienceWorld promotes growth mindsets for your students. 

    Teaching Tips: 

    • Shake up the reading of an article by staggering with whole class, partner, and individual reading. Do a quick check for comprehension along the way. 
    • Use the essential and core questions provided in the article to deepen the understanding of the text for students. 
    • Choose an article that allows for students to add a personal reflection or connection to increase engagement.
    • Display their thinking! Students of all ages love seeing their work in a community space, like a hallway or website.

    — Kathleen Charlson has taught sixth grade for 13 years in the states of Colorado and Iowa. She currently teaches language arts, but she has been fortunate to bounce among all content areas. She enjoys having the opportunity to read and study nonfiction and best writing practices with her students each year. Her interests include traveling, reading, and enjoying the outdoors with her family.

    Key Takeaways 

    • Display student work in a community space to promote shared learning 
    • Encourage opportunities to share SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) with peers 
    • Make personal connections to nonfiction text to deepen understanding and increase engagement 

    Spring is in the air… which sometimes makes it difficult to stay focused in class as the school year hits its final stretch. To get students heading in the right direction after spring break, I often rely on engaging non-fiction to create personal connections to the material we need to be learning. 

    In the March 4th issue of Scholastic ScienceWorld, “Push to the Finish,” tells the story of a boy named Noah, who takes his disabled brother with him as he competes in triathlons. This article gave us the perfect opportunity to talk about having a growth mindset, the concept of how to develop the skills and intelligence necessary to persevere through challenges. 

    We began our lesson by reading the article and watching the short video included, called Triathlon Bros. While reading, I often use the essential and core questions provided in the article to check for understanding. Asking students to make connections to kids like Noah and his brother, Lucas, who was born with a rare neurological condition, allows for deeper, more personal learning. Many students commented on their relationships with their siblings, and how amazing it was that Noah still includes Lucas when the circumstances are so difficult. (I also think a number of students now want to compete in a triathlon!) 

    Next, I handed out a writing and personal development worksheet “Mindset Matters,” included in ScienceWorld’s Teaching Resources. This activity encouraged them to reflect on tough situations they may experience in their learning both inside and outside of school. Once students completed their personal growth statements, they chose their best statement by putting a star next to it. 

    Students then wrote their chosen statement on a colorful piece of paper, cut it out, and hung it in the hallway next to the fixed mindset statement with which it corresponds. This created a striking visual that brightened the hallway and showcased the growth mindset of our students—the perfect reminder as we go into our final months of the school year. 

    Opportunities to share their ideas, whether it is displayed in the hallway, in our classroom, or online, gives students empowerment and voice among their peers. I underestimated how much my students liked cutting and taping their work up for all to see—they had fun! I love seeing kids’ pride in their own ideas and work.

    Don’t stop with just this story. ScienceWorld is full of other articles that can be used to promote a growth mindset. One of my other favorites is this story, “Linebacker With No Limits,” about a one-handed NFL star. Another is “Puzzle Solver.” It tells the story of Max Park, a Rubik’s Cube-style puzzle solver with autism. I hope you enjoy! 

    For similar ideas on using science stories to promote learning and engagement, you can try ScienceWorld in your classroom. You’ll get magazines for every student, Teacher’s Guides, activity sheets, experiments and digital resources like videos and multiple reading levels. You can even try the magazine FREE for 30 days and discover the many ways ScienceWorld promotes growth mindsets for your students. 

    Teaching Tips: 

    • Shake up the reading of an article by staggering with whole class, partner, and individual reading. Do a quick check for comprehension along the way. 
    • Use the essential and core questions provided in the article to deepen the understanding of the text for students. 
    • Choose an article that allows for students to add a personal reflection or connection to increase engagement.
    • Display their thinking! Students of all ages love seeing their work in a community space, like a hallway or website.

    — Kathleen Charlson has taught sixth grade for 13 years in the states of Colorado and Iowa. She currently teaches language arts, but she has been fortunate to bounce among all content areas. She enjoys having the opportunity to read and study nonfiction and best writing practices with her students each year. Her interests include traveling, reading, and enjoying the outdoors with her family.

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Susan Cheyney

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