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Monday, 26 November 2018

Power of Mindsets In Math


Written by Marsi Quarin-Wright, Instructional Coach
Online Teacher Course by Jo Boaler: youcubed.com

I was recently introduced to the work of Jo Boaler and the website youcubed.org. What caught my interest is where she says math learning begins. Her starting point is fundamental to the vison of FSD and the role relationships play in learning. To me, this is not a typical starting point in understanding math. What furthered my curiosity was watching this approach to math instruction in a classroom.  I listened to the teacher’s positive talk and how engaged students were in the lessons.  The most impressive is listening to how students in her class love math, describe 3-D shapes with excitement and apply proper math vocabulary. I knew I had to investigate more. I went on to the website and found that there was an online course I could take. I signed up!

I was nervous and fearful; what was I doing taking a math course? What if I had to add or multiply something?  To my surprise, as I logged in and found the first sections of the course were on Math Mindset, Mistakes and Persistence, and Teaching for a Growth Mindset. Dr. Boaler quickly dispelled the myths of math, such as:
·         math is only for smart people
·         you either get math or you don’t.

Taken from youcubed.com - Growth Mindset by Jo Boaler: retrieved from https://bhi61nm2cr3mkdgk1dtaov18-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/When-You-Believe-in-Your-Students-They-Do-Better.pdf
She uses brain research to show that everyone is capable of learning math to high levels. I quickly realized that math has a bad reputation and my own worries about taking this class fed into that bad reputation. I quickly understood and turned my worries into wonders and began to see math in a new light.

Over the years I have heard from friends, family, parents and students – “I hate math” or “I’m no good at math”. I think it is vitally important that we become more aware of how these passing comments can affect how students’ view and ultimately learn math. We need to focus on the positives and not create unnecessary anxiety in students by continuing to discuss math in a negative way.  Using a growth mindset can offset many of these fears for our students. We need to use mistakes as a path to a deeper understanding of math. Having students see that persevering through difficult tasks is a way to make our math brain grow.

Where to start? I encourage everyone to take a look at youcubed.org.


In particular, look under Tasks and More à Week of Inspirational Math.

This starts that switch in mindset in math. You can check out the online student class on youcubed.org called, “How to Learn Math: For Students;” its free and another great place to start for everyone. The whole site is really amazing and provides practical, easy to use lessons for all teachers – even for those who think they “aren’t good at math”…

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