A blog that ties all the Littleton Public Schools cohorts together in a common reflection space.
Trying again :). I feel so challenged to change my automatic comments and effort feedback. I understand the reasoning behind it, but I also appreciate how automatic the wrong language comments are ingrained in me. It is going to be a major effort. And a major effort needs to be undertaken to change societal views on effort as well.
Jamie, The automatic way we give feedback, talk with our own children is very automatic. I want to be more intentional about my words... and I agree this is a process... a long process.
I really enjoyed the two articles. I think it is important for us to keep educating ourselves, molding our own minds and taking the time to think of our kids and how to better serve them. Cover it live was AWESOME. I can't wait to try it out in my classroom! I will probably do it with my AP, because as I have said before, they are my guinea pigs for everything: they are my most mature students and the most ready to take a risk. I am nervous to try it, of course, but I think for a unit like the environment/science and tech it would be awesome to have mini debates within the fish bowl and then the class making comments from the outside. Oh, the awesomeness that could ensue!As far as the articles go, what I had to say, I said it during the fishbowl discussion. I really liked the ideas of the articles, and I struggle with things like feedback on written pieces. I try to be direct, concise, and positively critical, but I also need to think about my time constraints. Having 189 students, feedback is a daunting task. What can I do to better my feedback while also not breaking my back while grading?On the part of the brain and how struggle is like a workout for our brain - great article, but it is obvious! I always learn things better after I have struggled with them. I love telling my kids "if your brain hurts, that's a good sign!!"I love seeing articles like these, and I look forward to reading more of them this year.
Please let me know when you give CoverIt Live a try I would be thrilled to come in and help facilitate this. Let's also talk about having a partner class at the middle school level.
I'm so excited to share the video and article from Khan academy with my students and parents. So often, I see my students come to school with the focus and goal of "What can I do to avoid failing at this task?" rather than the goal of "How can I grow from this experience?" The visual of the brain as a muscle and the necessity to exercise it is so powerful for kids. So many students have a preconceived notion of who is smart and who is not in their class... and most importantly, which they see themselves as. This article and video can make a powerful impact with it's message: "Our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail." I'm putting myself in the shoes of the kids who have always felt like a failure or "dumb" at school and thinking how empowering it would be to hear the message that anyone's brain can grow with hard work and determination. For my accelerated students, I think of the visual of a muscular body builder wilting into nothing because he's not challenging his muscles.... if they don't use and challenge the brain muscle through risks and experiments, they could lose it!This growth mindset is powerful in writing for both groups of kids (accelerated and struggling.) It puts it into their hands to try new things in their writing without a fear of failure in order to strengthen their brain. Students who feel uncomfortable writing know that their mistakes are the path towards growing. Students who have always been praised for meeting or exceeding expectations because they hit the rubric, know that they too should be trying new things in their writing to grow their brain.
It is nice to see this working for all kids... like you mentioned accelerated and struggling.
Both of these articles make us think about how we are giving feedback to students. We know that students need specific feedback, but these articles push us to think about the specific feedback we are giving. Are we focusing on process or are we focusing on outcome? The most important thinking in these articles is focusing on praising and commenting on the process. I am going to say things such as, “Wow, I can see that you are really putting lots of effort into your writing.” Or, “I like how you are working to incorporate appositive sentences to be more descriptive.” Or, “You haven’t mastered using capital letters with proper nouns, but you will”.It is a change in thinking and it is a work in progress for me. I still find myself saying, “Good job!” or “That was smart”. I want to work hard this year to celebrate the struggle and to celebrate academic risk taking.
My take away affirms that our kids need continued work on intrinsic motivation. Building into my process as an educator to be more aware of my “language” is only a piece of the overall work that needs to be done in this area. As I change my response to student work to be more thought provoking than complimentary I will hope to also inspire the student to want to be better for themselves. As they see that teachers and parents will also be quite impressed with their progress, the ultimate goal will be for the student to be self gratified and motivated toward future learning projects.
The two articles and the fishbowl discussion were amazing! We have been hearing over and over about explicit instruction is what impacts a student’s growth. These two articles demonstrate a teacher’s need to explicitly reinforce what the student is doing well on. One change I am trying to instill in my students this year is the whole premise of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. We cannot become great at all aspects of our writing at one time. We are going to look at the rubric and bite off two or three goals the student will focus on. The three goals will come from the structure, craft, and conventions sections on the Lucy Caulkins rubric. Students will post those goals on everything they do in writing over the next month or so. By focusing on only 3 aspects to make their writing better, it will allow me to generate more focused feedback. Especially focusing on the process not the product.
I agree with with the part of the article about meeting with the students to give them specific feedback about their article and not just saying good job. Each student is different, so it is important how much feedback you give them and to always say something positive.Having peer editing sounds like a great idea, my daughter in middle school and high school used peer editing. This helped her and she took what they said and wrote seriously, it helped her and the teacher.
The statement that was to most meaningful to me is “the more you use your brain the more it grows.” As a special education teacher I think we are too easy on our students. At times making excuses for them, lowering expectations etc.. We look at testing data, IQ scores etc. and we think they cannot do what the other students are doing due to their disabilities. I have been guilty of this for several of my students, but not all. I realized that if I push them harder some will definitely step up to the plate and succeed. As a teacher I need to have the mindset the “the mind grows by getting questions wrong” Oftentimes I feel bad for the student and don't have the heart to tell them they are wrong. After reading the article “ Why I'll never tell my son he is smart” I have changed my thinking towards all of my students not just the select few. This year we have started a model called “ push in” This is a model where special educator where asked to pick the higher students in their pull out classes and push them into the general education classes. I chose 6 students from my 7th grade pull out LA class and pushed them into general ed 8th grade LA. I am in the class with them and the gen ed teacher and I are co teaching the class. To my amazement 5 out of the 6 students placed in this class are succeeding. they are doing all of the general ed work, keeping up with the class, getting all of the work in, on time (even though they have accommodations) The general ed class is fast paced, highly structured and intensively computer based. The students are required to complete tasks quickly and then move on to the next task, and the 5 students are keeping up. One student recently came to me the other day and said “Mrs.Rager, my brain hurts!” I had just finished reading the article and was able to reply to her that the reason her brain hurt was because she was using it more than she has ever used it and it was growing! the look on her face was priceless! She was so excited to know that her hard work was paying off and making her brain grow. I know realize that “mindsets can be taught”The other article “Growth Mindset in Writing” was also an eye opener to me as well. I realize that conferencing is not enough for the students, it needs to be meaningful . I learned that we need to have our students writing for a purpose ie write to real people for real responses for real purposes. I need to teach them how to talk and write about writing. I understand that some students may be scared to take that chance and make a mistake because then them would have the label of “fail” I learned that I need to expand the words “good job” and add to that “ You did a good job i see that you made an effort to revise your work.”
I found both articles fascinating as well as the short video. This particular portion from the article, "Nuturing Intrinsic Motivation":But sometimes, I also got it right. Before, I'd let students choose prompts and readings as much as possible, providing autonomy. After reading Pink, I learned to unbend myself, make deadlines more flexible, and shape the writing process more to fit the student. Now, my students feel more control over their process.I agree with this in my heart! I wonder though, how to allow for more time and creativity and flexibility into what is truly a tight academic schedule.How do I allow for this? Any thoughts?
Reading these articles was validating for me and the work our school, Field, has been undertaking the past two years. We have already been talking in depth about the type of feedback that ELL learners need to hear- specific and clear. We have also been focusing more on growth than proficiency when we look at our scores. As I said in the FishBowl discussion, many of my ELL students already feel far behind other students and the learning gap can feel overwhelming to both these learners and to me as a teacher. However, the research presented in these articles reminds me that if my focus is on their learning process, celebrating their learning through their struggles and mistakes, I am actually doing a better job at growing their brains and hopefully moving them in a direction to where the gap is closing. Additionally, if my proficient and advanced students know I’m celebrating effort and struggle, they will be more likely to try to push themselves, rather than worrying about or settling for a certain score.
My takeaways about Growth Mindsets and “Why I'll Never Tell My Son He is Smart” are that “people who are exposed to messages that praise their tenacity and grit and that underscore that the brain is like a muscle” grow more intellectually over time compared to others who have received “talent praise.” It’s amazing that such a minute adjustment to oral/written feedback can have such a far-reaching effect. I suspect that the dogged determination that these people exhibit have resulted in some of the biggest developments/discoveries in human history. No wonder why human beings have a history of celebrating others for overcoming exceptional odds and for perseverance.
It was really cool to be a part of the fishbowl and hear everyone's thoughts on what we read. I believe that good teachers know their students and adjust their feedback accordingly. I am trying to hold my students to higher standards this year. I know that I don't want to stop telling them "good job", etc, but I am trying to save those words for truly good work. Some students thrive on frequent positive feedback from us as teachers. They want to make us proud... and in turn feel proud themselves. The students who struggle with tasks we may take for granted need to be told good job. Other students don't need constant reassurance... they thrive on challenges and enrichment. My goal is to focus on beating personal bests. I want to celebrate those successes, not the pre and post scores, but the progress along the way :)
Inspired Reflection: After reading the two articles, what are your takeaways about Mindsets and writing.Two of my takeaways about Mindsets and writing are the importance of student engagement in writing as well as the importance of my language in supporting my students in their writing. After reading Conley’s article in which she quoted from Pink’s Drive that students are motivated by autonomy, purpose, and mastery, I asked my student to choose a purpose for writing their informational book. Who were they writing the book for and why did they think this person would enjoy or be interested in the book?I have been a big fan of Peter Johnston’s books Choice Words, and Opening Minds. I noticed that Johnston acknowledged the importance of Mindset at the beginning of Opening Minds. The importance of the language that we use with our students can’t be overemphasized and I appreciated the reminder. Yesterday as I conferred with my students during the independent writing time, I was reminded of the power of “yet.” I appreciated the suggestions listed in Conley’s article for other ways to say what we want to say to our students to help them grow.
After reading the articles and participating in the fishbowl activity, I am highly aware of how the language we use with our students can impact the entire outcome of not only their writing, but their confidence as a learner. Our kids come from years of hearing how perfect they are, and get it in their heads that if they are not perfect, they are nothing. We have to work to wean them away from this mindset and toward the idea that struggling creates growth, growth creates confidence, and from there they can learn so much more than they thought they were just “naturally” born to understand. I am really looking forward to trying the fishbowl with my Language Arts block. Not only will all students have an opportunity to be heard, but they will also have a chance to see other people’s thoughts and how they are phrased. The kids are going to love this!
Both of these articles summed up a banner I have hanging in my room that is big, bright and full of promise. That banner reads, "No new learning comes without some level of discomfort." I just had a conversation with some of my own students last week. During math, a couple of the kids said, "This is hard. I can't even do this." As soon as I heard those words come out, I pointed to that poster, and we had a brief conversation about how learning shouldn't always come easy. If you're sitting in a classroom all day long and never feel a challenge, then how could you possibly be learning anything? Both Khan's and Carol Dweck's articles support that there is always room for growth. Studies show that extrinsic rewarding doesn't work for students with regards to writing. Students need to hear that, although they are doing good things with their writing, there is always room for improvement. As they both say, "There is power in yet."
Great articles! I have heard a lot about this lately with encouraging perseverance instead of intelligence. It is something that needs to be constantly nurtured and in the forefront of my mind as I grade and conference with kids.There is a powerful message in knowing your brain has room to grow! I look forward to sharing this with my students.
Okay, this post is better late than never. After reading these articles, it reminds me that as educators (and parents) we need to be very intentional and specific with the feedback with give our students. We want to inform students of next steps without giving them false hopes that no improvement can be made. I really like using the work YET as described in the first article. "Your sentence structure doesn't yet match the tone you are trying to achieve." Well thought out comments are tough (and possibly time consuming) but well worth it if students are working up to their fullest potential.
Aargh! I already typed this long response, and who knows where it traveled! Cyber Starbucks with a friend?! :( Okay, let's persevere, and try again! The Kahn article became pivotal for me in Math (I know this was supposed to be for Writing, but it actually impacted my class in every way). My students got to hear about me being a learner during this Cohort - and how this particular article impacted me because I didn't realize how important it was to let students have failures - that in our failures, and in our struggles, the synapses in our brains fire and create more growth! I showed them how our brain was like a muscle and the effort was what was needed to help their "brain muscle" grow! The students were eager to try this ot with some challenging problems. They even wanted to be called "The Kahn Kids" during Math. Sometimes, during very challenging problems, some kids would get very frustrated and cry. At first, I would guide them by helping them to see that they were in a "fixed mindset" and their brain wasn't being allowed to grow. Then, the students were able to help each other with this calling each other out with having fixed mindsets (in an empathic way - that was a rule), and it was amazing to see the response! We had a sign in our room with a circle, fixed mindset in the middle, and a line through it. It said, "Through E-F-F-O-R-T our minds G-R-O-W-S!" In terms of Writing, what I realized I needed to do more, was provide more constructive feedback that guided students to push themselves towards their next steps. I am being cognizant of less "cheerleading" in my feedback and more constructive. It was truly a meaningful Saturday to be a learner with the Cohort - and it will continue to be carried over into my teaching (and learning)!