Rachel Dickson's Portfolio Page


Navigation links: ETAP 623 Fall 2023 | Growth Mindset in Education

About Me

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Hello everyone! My name is Rachel Dickson and I am from Upstate New York. I recently graduated from SUNY Oswego in May 2023 with a degree in Childhood Education 1-6 Social Studies. This is my second semester at UAlbany where I am completing my Master's in the CDIT program to obtain my professional teaching certification. I am currently a first year 6th grade ELA and Social Studies teacher in the district I grew up in, so I am teaching at a school I went to! I also completed an Athletic Coaching Minor at Oswego, so I hope to coach sports in my district when I finish my Master's. In my free time I like to do anything outdoors, such as hiking, camping, and hanging out by the lake. I also enjoy watching sports, and am happy that football season is here!

My Topic and Purpose

The topic that I chose to use for my mini-course is the Growth Mindset model. Growth Mindset is often compared against a Fixed Mindset, and is the idea that people are not born being naturally talented at a lot of things. Instead, through hard work, dedication, and a positive attitude, people can become better at things over time. However, the components of the Growth Mindset need to be taught, especially for students, so they can learn how to overcome challenges and obstacles instead of quitting every time they face failure. This is something that I do not remember being talked about in schools growing up, but is now starting to be common place in many schools. The reason I chose to use the Growth Mindset Model is because many students today are exposed to negativity through smartphones and social media at a younger age than ever before. With this, students often have a Fixed Mindset and use negative language in regards to their abilities. Through this mini-course, I am hoping that teachers and educators will discuss with their students a Growth vs Fixed Mindset, why having a Growth Mindset is so important, and how to address students who exhibit a Fixed Mindset through what they say and do.

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

My mini-course on the Growth Mindset model will develop many types of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. In terms of knowledge, educators will develop key points to know about a Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset, and how to differentiate between the two. This course will mainly focus on how to teach Growth Mindset to upper elementary students (4-6), but all educators will develop a basic knowledge that could be applied to any grade level. Throughout this mini-course, teachers will develop the skills to use Growth Mindset in the every day classroom through not only their own words and actions, but that of the students as well. It is important that teachers develop these skills because the Growth Mindset model can really change the way students view themselves in the academic setting and may lead them to be more willing to take on greater challenges and new tasks that they might not be familiar with. This can make the classroom setting more fun, but also create a learning environment where mistakes and failure are accepted as long as there is an effort to keep trying. This also leads to better teacher and student attitudes because with a positive attitude, one is already achieving a Growth Mindset, and it is this type of energy that can lead others to have a Growth Mindset as well.

Needs Assessment

  • The educational problem or opportunity: The educational problem with Growth vs Fixed mindset is that it does not fit neatly into any of the four subject areas in elementary school. Therefore, it often gets left out of teaching unless the school puts an emphasis on social and emotional learning. Students do not necessarily know that the language they use matters in terms of how they talk and think about themselves. They may hear this type of language at home and assume that it is okay. However, the opportunity of teaching students about having a Growth Mindset is immense, and one that can help students realize that each day is a new opportunity. The Growth Mindset also teaches students about the power of yet, and how even if they might not be able to understand it yet, they will with more practice. I have found that students who have a Growth Mindset in school often do better than those students that have a Fixed Mindset because they do not give up at every challenge or obstacle and use positive language to power through.
  • The learners/participants: The learners and participants of this course will be elementary teachers. The target audience of having a Growth Mindset would be elementary students, but educators need to know how to teach this topic to the age group of their students.
  • Analysis of gaps: Many educators have heard about Growth vs Fixed Mindset in their teacher preparation programs. I have also seen many elementary teachers have Growth vs Fixed Mindset bulletin boards in their classrooms. However, neither one of these are the most ideal because it does not show educators how to actually apply the Growth vs Fixed Mindset in the classroom. Furthermore, students do not really pay that much attention to bulletin boards hanging up, especially depending on their reading level. The reality is that many students therefore have heard of the term Growth Mindset, but do not know what that means or what it looks like to have a Growth Mindset. The ideal situation is that through this mini-course, teachers will have a better understanding of how to apply the Growth Mindset in the classroom setting and have students know what type of language they should be using to exhibit a Growth Mindset.
  • Existing efforts: The biggest way to address the existing gap is to have teachers constantly be paying attention to the words their students are saying as well as their actions when they are faced with a difficult or challenging assignment in the classroom. This is why some students often give up and say things like how stupid they are. Now, for many students they often give up because they know they have not received good grades in the past and maybe know how they compare to their peers. However, students also give up when they think this is a repetitive cycle and things will not change. Just by the language they use, kids can see that they are capable of great things, they might just need to keep pushing and working hard longer than some of their peers to achieve the same goal.
  • Intent statement: This mini-course will help elementary teachers address their needs of having students think and act with a Growth Mindset. It can be very difficult to motivate students that are almost in middle school, when all their lives they have grown up hating school. Although this is not a one-size fits all solution, teaching students how to have a Growth Mindset can help create a more positive learning environment as well.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

The participants or learners in this course are elementary teachers who would like to improve their knowledge on Growth vs Fixed Mindset and to apply their knowledge in the classroom. Teachers could take part in this course at any time throughout their school year, but especially around the mid-way point where students are starting to maybe get tired of school if they weren't already, and are having a difficult time persisting and thinking in a positive way. The content in this course will consist of material that teachers can use to instruct students on Growth vs Fixed Mindset, as well as videos and activities teachers can do with their students to get them practicing using a Growth Mindset. The course will interest a wide variety of elementary teachers as well as middle school teachers, so it is not specific to a subject area. All teachers can benefit from learning why teaching students how to have a Growth Mindset is so important in schools. This mini-course is also a way to build your professional development as a teacher, and depending on the school district one works at, they may already have a time where similar material is presented. Teachers will not spend much time on this course, as the basics will be familiar. However, the resources that will come out of participating in the mini-course will be valuable to both teachers and the students that will be learning about this in their classrooms.

Performance-Based Objectives

After completing this mini-course, learners will be able to:

  • Differentiate between a Growth vs Fixed Mindset by recognizing phrases and actions that show either a Growth or Fixed Mindset with 90% accuracy.
  • List reasons why teaching students to have a Growth Mindset is beneficial for both themselves and for creating a positive school environment with 85% accuracy.
  • Describe how they have shown a Growth Mindset as a teacher, and how to model the character and mindset we want to see in our students with 90% accuracy,
  • Design a Growth vs Fixed Mindset lesson to teach to the students in your classroom with 100% accuracy. Be able to have studnets reflect on how they currently show a Growth Mindset and ways to change some of the things they might do and say that represent a Fixed Mindset.

Task and Content Analysis

Before taking this course, the learner:

  1. should have basic knowledge of the definition of a Growth and Fixed Mindset from their undergraduate teacher education program (pre-requisite)
  2. should have an understanding of why these terms are important in the field of education and the classroom environment (pre-requisite)
  3. should know how learning about this topic could improve their teaching and learning in the classroom (pre-requisite)

Unit 1: Understanding Growth Mindset

What is the difference between a Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset?

After this unit the learner,

  1. will be able to accurately define Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset
  2. will gain a better understanding of words and actions that show a Growth Mindset and those that show a Fixed Mindset
  3. will be able to identify the characteristics of students that show a Growth Mindset and students that show a Fixed Mindset

Unit 2: Relevance to field of education

Why is the Growth vs Fixed Mindset such an important concept in the field of education?

After this unit the learner,

  1. will be able to identify the importance of teaching students how to have a Growth Mindset and why
  2. will be able to understand how a Growth Mindset can lead to a positive school environment
  3. will understand the effects of teachers having a Growth Mindset in the classroom

Unit 3: Growth Mindset as a teacher

Why is it important to model the type of mindset we want to see in our students?

After this unit the learner,

  1. will understand the role of teachers in building a Growth Mindset in our students
  2. will be able to model different ways to show students what having a Growth Mindset means
  3. will be able to reflect on their teaching in terms of having a Growth Mindset and understand how their character can influence student behavior

Unit 4: Applying Growth vs Fixed Mindset in the classroom

How can you teach Growth vs Fixed Mindset in a developmentally appropriate way?

After this unit the learner,

  1. will learn how to teach the concept of Growth vs Fixed Mindset to the students in your class
  2. will be able to have students reflect on what ways they exhibit a Growth Mindset and things they may do or say that represent a Fixed Mindset
  3. will be able to teach students how to change their Fixed Mindset into a Growth Mindset

Curriculum Map

References and Resources

Cullins, A. (2022). Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset examples. Big Life Journal. https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/fixed-mindset-vs-growth-mindset-examples

Faye, S. (2015, September 15). How to teach growth mindset to students in 5 steps. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj5k6KAvt18

Klein, T., & Liang, B. (2022). How to create the right environment for students to develop a growth mindset. Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_create_the_right_environment_for_students_to_develop_a_growth_mindset

Millacci, T. S. (2023, October 3). How to nurture a growth mindset in kids: 8 best activities. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/growth-mindset-for-kids/

Paunesku, D. (2018, August 10). LearnStorm Growth Mindset: Dave Paunesku on teacher modeling of growth mindset. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLWWXZTSoq4

Sprouts. (2016, April 15). Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUWn_TJTrnU

TEDx Talks. (2014, September 12). The power of yet | Carol S Dweck | TEDxNorrköping. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-swZaKN2Ic&t=20s

University of Massachusetts Global. (n.d.). The importance of adopting a growth mindset in your teaching. www.umassglobal.edu. https://www.umassglobal.edu/news-and-events/blog/the-importance-of-adopting-a-growth-mindset-in-your-classroom#:~:text=A%20growth%20mindset%2C%20Dweck%20asserts,in%20just%20about%20any%20sphere.