The first week of school, I read a book called “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds to my students. If you haven’t seen this picture book, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. In it, a little girl is frustrated when she cannot draw and her teacher gently guides her to “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” The book has so many “big ideas” and is a wonderful way to introduce students to the idea of digging deeper into a book and beginning the discussions on growth mindset.
After reading the book, I ask my students to tell me what they think the author wanted us to learn or remember from the text, and I generated a list of ideas. This is also a great way to have more activities for social emotional learning embedded into your teaching.
Art Smart: Connecting Reading, Thinking, and Art
Together we worked to make the list clear and manageable, and then the fun began. I cut white paper into different-sized squares and rectangles. Some were little, some big…and told the students to get out their watercolors and to “just make a mark”. Without reading the text, these paintings might not make sense to you, but trust me when I say to you that some of the lessons shared during this text form the foundation for my “Fourth Grade Studio”. The idea that we need to take pride in our work…to believe in ourselves…to never say “I can’t!”…come up all year long. Growth Mindset 101!
As we read the midway point in the year, I think it’s time to go revisit our display which still hangs proudly in our classroom to remind ourselves of those concepts we discussed so long ago. If you haven’t seen the book–check it out. Until then, check out some of OUR “dots”! I do this activity every year, and find myself referring back to the display and our “findings” often. Some years I get my whole hallway to do it and we display them for all to see. Helping students understand growth mindset vs. fixed mindset is so important, and using quality literature is one great way to tackle it.
Interested in a few more posts about growth mindset vs. fixed mindset?
This post gives a few “cautionary tales” about teaching growth mindset and has some food for thought.
This post talks more about Carol Dweck and her growth mindset research.
Finally, this post is a “round up” with several posts that may be helpful as you think about doing more work with growth mindset in your classroom.