Altering the Fixed Mathematical Mindset

Course Overview

Curriculum Map


It appears we are failing our students across the country in the math classroom, and have been doing so for years. Whenever I reveal my profession to others I hear one of two responses: “Oh, I hated/was horrible at math” or “Wow” and then the conversation ends. Many have this preconceived notion that math is just calculating numbers, and solving problems that will never show up in the world outside of the classroom walls. To be honest, that was/is many Americans experience throughout their years of “learning” math in school. We are too focused on improving our standardized test scores that we lose sight of how to teach and appreciate the math of life. Certainly the Common Core Standards, and NYS Regents make it difficult, as the high school standards are packed with obsolete content that works against teachers being able to go into depth and give students the experiences they need. I’m tired of making excuses as to why we are failing to prepare our students for the mathematical mindset they will need for their lives. So herein lies the purpose of my mini course: how you can change the status quo of mathematical teaching in your classroom by completely altering the current fixed mindset through use of motivation and deeper mathematical tasks.

Assessment of Learner Needs

1. Instructional Problem
The purpose of this mini-course is to give educators of mathematics a platform to start implementing tools and strategies needed to increase student motivation, alter the fixed mindset of students and inspire students through challenging tasks, motivational videos, and the power of mistakes.

2. What is to be Learned?
Participants will learn strategies to implement into a math classroom that will lead to an increase in student motivation and engagement.

3. The Participants
Participants will include educators teaching in K-12 mathematical environments, after-school programs and tutors seeking to address the aforementioned instructional problem. The participants will have had experience utilizing Web 2.0 tools and exhibit a fair amount of technological self-efficacy. The asynchronous, self-directed course will also require that participants be self-regulated learners.

4. Context for Instruction
Participants in this mini-course will access content in an online, asynchronous modality. Access to the instructional content will require Internet connectivity, computer with ability to open and edit Microsoft Office documents, view online videos and create content to post online.

5. Goals of this Mini-Course
The main goal of the mini-course is for participants to be able to use some of the strategies and resources discussed in the following modules in their own classroom. This is meant to be modified and applied to fit each educator's needs for his or her own classroom. It is not a one size fits all type of information, but in sharing my own success stories, and resources, I am hopeful that others will find and utilize various items discussed in the course to best benefit their own students.

Performance Objectives

1. Given information on rich mathematical tasks intended to alter the fixed mindset, participants will be able to identify at least five benefits for its implementation in the classroom.

2. Given examples of motivational resources, participants will be able to evaluate their effectiveness using a rating scale and be able to discover motivational resources of their own and evaluate their effectiveness with their own learners.

3. Given a list of enriched mathematical tasks from Jo Boaler's site, participants will be able to design a lesson around the task, with the end goal in mind to challenge, and engage their learners.

4. Given the reflective prompt, “What are your thoughts on mathematical mindsets? Has it changed at all throughout the course? Explain.”, participants will demonstrate a greater willingness to implement the learning model in their own classroom, as measured by their written response.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Module 1: Introduction

Brief Overview: Participants will understand the following key points:

  • Differences between fixed and growth mindset
  • Power of words: how important it is to praise for effort over intelligence
  • Value in challenges: teach students not to fear failure

Module 2: Resources

Brief Overview: Participants will discover the following:

  • "Motivational Monday" Videos
  • "Think Through" Examples
  • Embracing Mistakes Activity

Module 3: Implementation

Brief Overview: Participants will create and review the following:

  • A lesson or activity using the rubric provided that is specific to your learner's needs
  • Reflect on the experience, and share your success and or failures with the class.
  • Contribute to the resource list any activity, video, or lesson you feel has the potential to motivate and inspire current and future students.