Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets: Chapter 1

So excited to begin this book study hosted by Kathie at Tried and True Teaching Tools. So hoping you enjoy the posts on Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler.

I know there has been a lot of buzz about growth mindset so the title of this book intrigued me. How can we help all students develop a mathematical mindset? Let the discussion begin...

In chapter 1, The Brain and Mathematics Learning, Boaler begins with research. I have taken one of her online courses, and I know supporting ideas with research is her thing. Boaler begins with her claim that the brain can CHANGE, ADAPT, and GROW (4)! This is great news for teachers. If the right math materials are used and if students receive positive messages about their potential/ability, students can journey towards a mathematical mindset.

Key Takeaway: One recommendation by Boaler is to praise students for what they DO rather than who they are as a person (8). Flipping how teachers praise students can make a difference.

 "That is an amazing piece of work."
"You have thought deeply about this piece."
"It is wonderful to see how you learned this."

Classroom Connections:
  • Growth mindset. Messages students receive can impact their self perception. Intentionally teaching students about the difference between fixed mindset and growth mindset is important. Explicitly teaching students about the different mindsets can help make what growth mindset "looks" like and "sounds" like more tangible. Creating a classroom environment that surrounds students with growth mindset messages is key. Pinterest is full of different ideas to help support this in the classroom. Here are some ideas I posted to one of my Pinterest boards: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset.
  • Mistakes. How important they are! Rather than see mistakes as failure, students need to realize they are a pathway to learning. Helping students to see the importance and relevance of mistakes is important and has to be intentional. One strategy I like to use is, "My Favorite No." Check out the video here: My Favorite No: Learning from Mistakes from the Teaching Channel. Although it is recommended for grades 6-8, it can be modified and used with other grades in a manner that fits the readiness levels of the students.
  •  Regardless where our comfort level is with math, it is beneficial for students when we, their teachers, approach math with confidence and enthusiasm (8). By passing this onto students, it can help students view math as reachable and enjoyable (9). Isn't that what we want for all our students? 
Thanks for stopping by Pam's Place. I look forward to sharing with you strategies Jo Boaler outlines in her book in the coming weeks. Stop by next Thursday as I talk about "The Power of Mistakes and Struggle," chapter 2. 


  1. What great additional resources! Following your Pinterest board & love the mistakes video. Thanks for linking up!

  2. I enjoyed reading your post! I love your Pinterest board! What an awesome set of resources! The "My Favorite No" activity is one of my favorites. Another math coach and I shared it with our teachers last school year.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Pam's Place.

  3. Great post! I totally agree! Making it safe for students to take risks and make mistakes is SO IMPORTANT! I'm so excited to keep reading!

    1. So glad you stopped by Pam's Place.