Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2019 Section 5933 (Byrne) Altering the Fixed Mathematical Mindset

About Me


I am a 5th year high school Algebra teacher, working at the same school I once attended almost 10 years ago. I am an active member in the community, serving as the student council advisor, mentor teacher, and modified and JV volleyball coach. I am currently in my final semester of the CDIT program and look forward to graduating with my masters in the spring. When school is not in session I try to travel as much as I can. I have backpacked through Europe, climbed a "14er" in Colorado, taught a lesson in Belize, and befriended a band in Nashville. I am in awe of other cultures and eager to experience as much as the world as I can afford. I truly find self-growth through travel and would one day love to teach abroad.

My Topic and Purpose

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.

Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of this course will lead participants to:

  • Develop and use mathematical tasks geared towards altering the fixed mindset
  • Accurately recall and produce motivational resources such as videos, key phrases, and specific tasks
  • Implement lessons meant to inspire, challenge, and empower mathematical learners

Needs Assessment

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.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

This course is tailored to educators of mathematics, although some of the strategies discussed can be applied to any content area. Focusing mainly on mathematics, as it seems to have the most negative connotation amongst many students, this course was designed to help change the belief in both children and adults that you are either a math person or you are not, and there is no changing. This could not be further from the truth, and ideally this mini-course will help teachers in convincing their own students that math ability can be developed, and that anyone and everyone can have a positive experience with math and be considered a "math person."

Performance-Based 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.

Task Analysis

1. Goals:

Terminal Goal: Teachers will design a plan using the strategies and resources provided through this course to promote a growth mindset amongst their mathematics students."'

Enabling Goals:

Teachers will understand the impact their words have on students, and the difference between praising a student's work ethic vs. praising a student's intelligence.

Teachers will evaluate different motivational resources to determine which relates best to their own students.

Teachers will construct a plan to help them implement the information from this mini course into their own classrooms.



-internet navigation

-the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset

-procedures for writing responses/ reflections to questions


-Choose to spend adequate time with the course materials

-Choose to provide quality responses and share resources in reflections

-Choose to provide quality feedback to peers


-Identify language that promotes altering the fixed mindset

-Identify different motivational strategies

-Ability to navigate online articles

-Ability to post responses and share resources in an online forum

Interpersonal Skills:

-Effective at giving constructive feedback

-Effective at working with others in a group to accomplish a task

3. Pedagogical Approach

Units 1 and 2: Connectivist: participants will utilize information from articles and websites to establish metacognition and make connections between content.

Unit 3: Constructivist: Participants will use what they've learned to create a plan of implementation.

Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map.ODonnell.png

References and Resources