“Growth mindset” is the idea that the brain — or intellect — is a like a muscle that when exercised can grow and change over time. It says that a person’s perceived talents or academic and interpersonal skills are NOT fixed at one level, but can develop, given the right tools and effort. “Fixed mindset” is the misperception that individuals have a certain level of ability, intelligence and talent.
Some technology tools can help develop students’ growth mindset, in subject areas where they commonly experience difficulty. There are five characteristics of the growth mindset: Challenges, Obstacles, Effort, Criticism, and Success of Others. Here are two tech resources that can help support growth mindset for Challenges and Obstacles.
Challenges. It’s important that students learn to embrace challenges, especially in those areas where they struggle. Grammar and writing are common areas of struggle for students. Quill is a free platform that provides writing and grammar activities for elementary, middle and high school students. The grammar exercises — designed to be challenging — let students learn and work independently in a personalized environment. Quill also has a diagnostic tool that shows where students need additional practice. As they practice, they see their skills improve and they gain confidence.
Persistence. Students must learn how to persevere against obstacles and setbacks to find a solution. Tinkercad, a free, web-based 3D design application, can help develop persistence. With Tinkercad, students take simple objects — such as squares, cones and circles — and manipulate them on screen to create other objects like keychains, jewelry, art, boats, Minecraft characters and so forth. I teach a 3D design seminar, and after a brief introduction to Tinkercad’s capabilities, the students dig in and focus on their projects. Their concentration and perseverance stuns me. They try, they fail, try again, iterate several times, and eventually prevail with amazing results. The concept of FAIL — First Attempt In Learning — epitomizes the idea of the growth mindset “persistence” attribute.
What tech tools are you using to help support growth mindset in your classrooms? Tune in next month when I discuss the three other characteristics of the growth mindset, and tech tools that can support them.
Gene Tognetti is the founder of Agile Educational Technology Consulting. He provides professional development to educators on topics including effective classroom technology integration, growth mindset, 1-to-1 blended learning, and technology planning. Gene is a recovering administrator, and has been a technology coach, and a middle school teacher. Connect with Gene on Twitter at @gtognetti1.