Creating a lesson that promotes independence and creativity
I have been looking for opportunities to incorporate the COVA model (Harapnuik, 2017) into my classroom, and the perfect opportunity finally came up. My class has been studying Australia and students were interested in the animals of Australia. There was a premade lackluster PowerPoint presentation in my lesson resources that would have given the students information on animals of Australia, but instead of going that route, I decided that this is the perfect time for students to explore and learn for themselves.
I teach sixth grade social studies and the ability to research a topic is part of our TEKS. In order for a lesson like this to be successful, I first looked at what I wanted them to discover and ways I could guide them to be successful researchers. At the sixth grade level, research is relatively new to our students. I decided to give them three sites to use for research purposes and a short list of Australian animals they could complete their research over. I researched each animal on the list using the sites I would be giving the students to use to ensure they would be successful in finding what they need. Researching ahead of time also gave me an idea of what they would find and gave me a way to guide them if they got stuck.
Where I Was
As a student in the DLL program at Lamar University, I was told that I would have plenty of opportunities to reflect on my learning and see how far I've come. One of these opportunities has recently presented itself as I've had that the chance to revisit my growth mindset plan. I was able to look at the work I'd previously done with mindset and give it a fresh makeover with the experience I've gained since then.
Where I'm Going
Although I had a reasonable understanding of a growth mindset in the beginning, I feel that I took one area and created a laser focus just on that. I really wanted my students to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, and though it is an important starting point, it isn't everything. In a recent article I read where Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset, there are new points to consider within implementation of the growth mindset. One area I chose to focus on was criticism and feedback. How feedback is presented by teachers and received by learners plays an important role in having a growth mindset. I realized that I need to make sure I'm presenting feedback in a positive way that helps learners understand that there are issues that need to be addressed, and opportunities to move forward toward success. The learners in turn, must have a growth mindset in how they receive feedback. They need to have an open mind toward feedback as a positive opportunity for them to grow as a student, rather than seeing only what they've done wrong (fixed mindset).
I also want to add grit alongside the growth mindset. As Angela Duckworth pointed out in her video "Grit: the power of passion and perseverance", grit and the growth mindset go hand in hand. Students must learn to persevere through failure to reach a goal. They must also learn to create a plan to reach their goals, Modeling how to do that for students and creating opportunities for them to put it into practice can help create resilience that they can apply along with the growth mindset to their learning.
I have revisited and updated my growth mindset plan in order to create better opportunities for my learners within my classroom.
The Map To Our Destination
In one of the videos I watched in class, Dr. Harapnuik used the analogy of a map to reach a destination. That stuck with me, and I believe that a map is a vital part of getting to my destination of successfully implementing my innovation plan of blended learning stations. From the beginning of my master's program, I have slowly been creating that map starting with my why and my learning philosophy and using them to create a plan for changing my students' learning environment from one where I'm the "sage on the stage" to one where I'm the guide on the side. It is an environment, where the students will understand the purpose of learning, have a growth mindset and grit to help them along the road, and will be behind the wheel in an active role as learners. The blended learning stations lend themselves to creating significant learning environments where I can design learning that begins with the end in mind using tools like the UbD template, and Fink's 3 column table template which set up goals for learning as well as authentic activities and assessments for learners. I look forward to using the tools and strategies that I have gathered in my program to implement my innovation plan and create significant learning environments for my students.
Bates, T. (2014, July 29). Learning theories and online learning. Online Learning and Distance Education Resources - Moderated by Tony Bates, Research Associate, Contact North. https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/07/29/learning-theories-and-online-learning/.
Donovan, S. M., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2009). How people learn: bridging research and practice. National Academy Pr.
Grit: the power of passion and perseverance: Angela Lee Duckworth. (2013). YouTube. https://youtu.be/H14bBuluwB8.
Dweck, C. (2020, December 2). Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset' (Opinion). Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/opinion-carol-dweck-revisits-the-growth-mindset/2015/09.
Fink, L. D. (2005). A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. https://www.deefinkandassociates.com/. https://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf.
Harapnuik, D. (2016, March 11). Four keys to understanding learning theories. harapnuik.org. http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=6344.
Harapnuik, D. (2018, July 14). COVA. harapnuik.org. http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6991.
Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The behaviourist orientation to learning’, The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. [https://infed.org/mobi/the-behaviourist-orientation-to-learning/. Retrieved: 3/14/21.
Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (Expanded second edition). Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
What you are about to read is my original plan to implement a growth mindset in my classroom. I wrote this after reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in one of my first master’s classes. I have reviewed the original plan and will be adding some updates to the end:
The growth mindset is something I am still learning but I want to start incorporating it into my school with my students and colleagues. This is a lofty goal which will require me to have a consistent growth mindset for myself. This is the perfect time to start working on this. It is fresh on my mind so I can bring examples to my students and my colleagues as well as give them access to new growth mindset research and examples as I find them.