Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Develop a Math Growth Mindset

Math ability, like IQ, should not be viewed as fixed.  I have blogged about this notion before in last November's post, Can Everyone Learn Math?  What is different about this week's post is the inclusion of resources to help students recognize themselves as capable math learners.

Why is it socially acceptable to say "I'm not a math person" or "I was never good at math growing up" when it's not socially acceptable to have the same reaction to reading?  In fact, I've never heard an adult say that they were not good at reading.  It would clearly carry different weight.  So how come we let our students, students' parents, and even co-workers claim to not be math people?  This is an issue that I come across almost every day.  Thank you to the 5 District Partnership Executive Administrator, Cove Davis, for sending me the article How to Turn Every Child Into a Math Person.

Many of you are familiar with Carol Dweck's book, Mindset.  But did you know that Dweck collaborated with computer scientists to develop resources that link video games, the growth mindset and mathematical learning together?  The proposed video games reward students for effort and perseverance when problem solving.  To learn more about this unique study, read Brain Points: A Growth Mindset Incentive Structure Boosts Persistence in an Educational Game.

Our final resource can and should be used in all math classrooms.  Jo Boaler, a professor at Stanford University, has introduced the Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks as a way to engage all levels of mathematicians.  If all students have an authentic entry point into a task, the activity is said to have a low floor.  If all students feel challenged with thought-provoking extensions, the task is said to have a high ceiling.  It is possible to create activities that offer both and give all students the ability to be mathematicians.

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