Mathematical Mindsets: Chpt. 9

This is it. The last chapter of Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. This chapter recaps key takeaways to help foster a growth mindset classroom. There is so much information to digest from this book to help pave way to mathematical mindsets for all students.

...,it is important to remember that not helping students is often the best help we can give students. ~Jo Boaler (179)

Key Takeaway: Let's encourage students to be mathematicians. Rather than set limits on what students learn and explore in math,it is okay to introduce higher level math in an intellectually honest form to students to pique curiosity and allow them to grapple and wonder (189).

Classroom Connections:
  • It is important to establish classroom norms and expectations that are not only shared verbally, but also shown through teachers' actions.
    • Every student is valued and expected to achieve at the higher levels.
    • Mistakes are valued. Mistakes make the brain grow.
    • Failure and struggle are integral in the process of learning math.
    • Multiple pathways and representations for math are important and valued more than speed.
    • Questions are welcomed and encouraged!
  • When giving feedback, we need to be cognizant of the words we use. Words such as "smart" need to be replaced with feedback that reflects specific student actions and strategies used such as: "It's great that you learned that." or  "I really like how you are thinking about that problem." (179) The word "smart" develops a fixed message that it's great when I know things, but when I make mistakes and fail...I am no longer smart. We want students to struggle in math. Without failure or mistakes, students may not be getting the opportunity to wade into new areas of mathematics or to develop a deeper understanding of complex and rich mathematics. 
  • One reality of mathematics is that in today's work world, computers are available to do calculations. We need to grow students in being comfortable making conjectures, posing questions, and defending their reasoning. Rather than always using problems posed in textbooks that tend to focus on procedural calculations and contrived situations have students use real-world data to generate their own mathematical questions. Modeling with mathematics (SMP 4) and interpreting mathematical results also can help ramp up how we can engage our students in the math classroom. If a student quickly gets an answer ask them to model their did they arrive at that answer? This can bring in a whole new level of mathematics to some students.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. Now as the school year unfolds, the goal will be to take some of these ideas by Jo Boaler and embed them into daily practice. has a Week of Inspirational Math that could be used as a springboard to begin to transform the way students view mathematics. Wishing you all an engaging and successful mathematical journey!

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