Blogaugust #4--First Days--The Myth of "I am Bad at Math"

Thanks to John Mahlstedt @jdmahlstedt, I am motivated to blog about one of the first activities we do in Geometry, school-wide. (Not sure if article came from Danielle Buckman or Jessica Balli, both amazing teachers I am privileged to call colleagues).

We all share and read this article with our students: The Myth of I am Bad at Math, from the Atlantic Magazine. We all teach/share it our own way. 
(One teacher, whose baby boy was due in two weeks, came in the first two days of school, just because she thought the lesson was so important, she didn't want to trust it to a substitute teacher!)

Here is my approach: 

The exit ticket for the day was to agree or disagree with the statement, 
       "Math ability is mostly genetic." 
After the students wrote their reflection, I gave them time to move to an AGREE and DISAGREE side of the room and explain their thinking. 

I sent the article home with each student and gave them the following assignment:
Read the article and highlight 3 new vocabulary words (if you know them all, highlight three interesting words), determine and write the definition from the context, write down 2 big ideas in your own words, and 1 question you have. 

The next day, we discussed the vocabulary, then we broke up into groups of 4 and practiced active listening using "Collaborative Conversation Notes" I learned about at an EduImpact Conference held at our county office of education ( (here is an article about how to use the template). I had the students summarize one or two big ideas they could agree on in the center.  Our group conversation after was touching. All of the students moved to the DISAGREE side. Here is one group's change of heart, "We disagree because if you understand it well, you do good, but if you don't, you have to try harder and get better."

This year, I will ask the students to come up with some "myth" statements. When I have enough, I will give each group one to rewrite as a "growth mindset" statement perhaps taking something from what they learned reading the article. I wrote in Blogaugust #1 that I was inspired by Sarah Hagan and her post on a growth mindset bulletin board that she made from inspiration from @druinok So this is how I will approach crafting the statements to create the bulletin board of Growth Mindset statements.

Moving from I can't to ...yet.

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