2016-12-30

By Kalin McKean, Rockwell Automation Team serving at Rogers Street Academy

When it comes to math, it is common for students to express a strong, fixed mindset. In my own 8th grade class, it is not ununsual to hear soft groans and whispers of “this it too hard, I can’t do this” as new math concepts are introduced to the students.  We call this math anxiety.

Being a fellow victim of math anxiety, I created a lesson plan about the importance of having a growth mindset while solving math problems.

Over the span of three weeks, we discussed phrases we can begin saying such as “this is challenging, but I am not going to give up,” instead of using the more commonly used negative statements.

We practiced having a growth mindset by playing a game called Math 24, which is a challenging game that requires players to use the four numbers written on the card and use multiplication, division, subtraction, addition, or exponents to reach the number 24. While playing, each number can only be used once, but all numbers must be used in the process.

I chose to incorporate this game into our unit about growth mindset because it is a math puzzle that requires many attempts before getting to the correct answer. Also, each card has more than one possible solution. Because the game requires trial and error, it helps each student accept their mistakes and keep trying.

After we learned how to play the game, we used Math 24 to learn about the order of operations and how to create and solve equations.

Since our unit on growth mindset, I have observed an increase in the motivation levels of my students, as they continuously choose to persevere when problems are tough. I have also witnessed my students encourage each other when they grow frustrated by new math concepts, and my students are much more willing to kindly help teach each other.

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