summary of Carol Dweck's Scientific American article, talk given in a faculty meeting, and with 5th-graders

Along with the talk I passed out four articles by Carol Dweck, the ones I consider to be "the best of Dweck."

People in both groups said the talk was valuable. Faculty members have been stopping by to talk about the articles, saying they read the whole packet--and that they are sharing the articles with educators they know, and family.

Students absorbed the talk pretty well--they had to provide a summary of what they got out of the "mini-lecture" in class on a discussion forum on our class network. I'm satisfied that they understand the concepts intellectually. Now we'll see if they can promote active mindsets in themselves and each other. I've heard several references to Dweck's ideas in class; don't know if they're internalizing the message or acting as if they are in order to please me... We'll see.


By the way and on another level, with faculty members I called this a hybrid talk, both high tech and low tech. These images were projected on a 10X12 foot screen in a room that seated 50; all I had to do was advance the slide show. The projected writing provided the background--I was in the front of the group, walking back and forth, telling the ideas in a bit more detail. People found it friendly to see handwriting and felt that was an instantly accessible way of documenting and sharing what's going on in class; they were reminded of a technique that can be simple yet powerful. The other high-tech/low-tech thing I did was to teach the method of "voting" via fingers indicating points on a scale from 1-10, just like "buzzers" will do in tech. Only this manner of using the buzzer system is organic and physical... I asked scaled questions such as "To what degree do you think it's important that we create a climate of 'active mindset' around here," and "To what degree do you see 'active mindset' in action around here?" When faculty members "voted," they could look at each other's responses, note the range and variability, absorb where we are as a group. Looking at each other is a whole lot different than looking at a graph on a screen. Anyhow, I like to rock back and forth with digital and physically-human information-sharing.

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Comment by Laura Gibbs on November 19, 2010 at 11:33am
Craig, what a great moment of synchronicity - I just now finished writing out a note to a colleague in the Business School at my university urging him to try an assessment model based on lots and lots and LOTS of structured student participation, where students basically record their activity (so many points for this, so many points for that), structuring the activity so they get different kinds of feedback from the instructor and from students (feedback - not grading). The record of activity can be used as the basis for a grade, and meanwhile if you are confident in the activities the students are doing, the learning will proceed naturally, especially if they are getting lots of feedback. I am curious what he will say - he teaches a course with 400 students in it! Anyway, I am always trying to advocate grading systems based on maximizing effort... rather than high-stakes exams, which still rule at my school and at most colleges & universities, albeit for different reasons than the standardized testing in K-12... So, I dropped in at Fireside just after writing that note to him and was so pleased to see your comment here! :-)
Comment by Craig A. Cunningham on November 19, 2010 at 11:22am
This is awesome, Connie!

I used to work at a boarding school in Maine...the Hyde School in Bath (, whose motto is "Character First." Most of Dweck's principles are ensconced in that school's practices and principles.

What will it take for the standardized testing movement to realize that "rating" kids (and schools) based on achievement instead of effort is....MIND-NUMBING?!?
Comment by Beverly Beavers on October 15, 2010 at 7:56pm
I like your idea of voting via fingers. We just had an inservice on clickers, but I think this sounds a whole lot easier. I also liked your presentation. Very Powerful!!
Comment by Ken Messersmith on October 15, 2010 at 10:57am
Thanks for the example of a high tech/low tech presentation. I am also a big fan of Carol Dweck's. My favorite phrase to use with my students is "Effort trumps ability." I also like to impress upon my future teachers that they will use the phrase "not yet" a lot with their students. When a student is struggling it just means they are not there "yet" but they will get there.
I have shown your blog to a few of my colleagues this morning. It has made all of us think of ways we can use the high tech/low tech approach.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Comment by Ian Carmichael on October 14, 2010 at 7:12pm
Great stuff - this is the appeal of the commoncraft videos as well - blending hi- and lo-tech. We still have a few folks using OHP's, because of the brightness of the image and its effect in waking up the body, instead of the darkening environments of data projectors.
Anyway - great stuff Connie. Simple and human content, much more engaging than 'cast' typefaces.
Love the melding of old and new...
Comment by Laura Gibbs on October 14, 2010 at 12:23pm
Connie, my favorite of all of Dweck's words of wisdom (and this is such great stuff) is GROWTH GROWTH GROWTH so of course I loved the way you had leaves there on some of the pages.

I wish the growth of our minds was as physically manifest as the growth of plants - if we could visibly see new roots and branches sprouting out of our heads, so we would know when we need watering, or even when to be pruned back, when we need more sun and so on, metaphorically speaking.

I am a terrible gardener, but there is a mint plant we have kept for a few years now (MUST HAVE MINT FOR MOJITOS), and I've learned how to take care of it (thank goodness it barely needs taking care of ha ha ha), but I have connected with that plant more than any plant I ever had before: I have to pluck the flowers because what I really want are the big green leaves, and sometimes I have to pull parts of the plant out (like when the stem starts to get woody, when I want the stem to be kind of tender), and I have to water it a lot during the summer, and cut it back for winter. But it gives me all the signals I need in order to know when to do what.

If only our minds could visibly sprout and flower like that! It's like you said here about the feedback of people voting with their fingers. The plant "tells" me what it needs. I just wish our learning growth had such great feedback mechanisms, so accurate and insistent, as the plants offer us!

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