The Growth Mindset and Technology

So I am forced to confront the growth mindset question yet again. It seems as though I will be wrestling with the growth mindset for the next eight weeks and throughout the  program. Why do I say wrestle? Because I would have considered myself a growth mindset guy until last week’s discussion. The driving force behind my teaching ability (if there is any ability), is the fact that I want to be the best. That is a fixed mindset mantra and yet it is part of my personal “why”. However, I am willing to fail and learn from the process of failing in order to become the best, which is a growth mindset mantra.  The failures push me to learn, practice, and evaluate what I am doing, but the bottom line is to be the best. Why?  I owe it to my students and all the people who helped me along the way, to help others.  When you get down to the heart of life, it is really only Faith, Family, and Helping others (and I have a lot of room for growth in all three areas!!).  I’m going to save this growth mindset vs. fixed mindset battle that I am fighting for another discussion.  So let’s examine the topic at hand, which is the growth mindset as it relates to technology integration.

 As it relates to technology,  I’ve been an early adopter. I’ve been at my current school for 8 years.  A few years ago we became a Google District, and we began getting Chrome carts.   No one in my department wanted to use the Chrome carts. They were, and still are for the most part, tied to the book.  My books look brand-new and untouched.  Until COVID, I would get quite a few laughs from staff members because they think that my kids should be more focused on the chapter 7 work.  How is “chapter 7” work representative of a fixed mindset?  In itself, it isn’t.  The question lies in how it is used; in short if the book is not used for meaningful work, then what is the purpose? I don’t even know what’s in Chapter 7, I don’t know who the authors of our books are, and unless I’m doing vocabulary or something that stands out in the books, I just use them for a reference. A lot of times I believe that people rely on the book because it gives them the opportunity to give students organized work, not meaningful work. As well, when kids finish the bookwork you’re instantly going to be able to praise “effort”, but the fact of the matter is all kids have to do is parrot from the book.  Last year my department had a book adoption.  We were “advised” that since we spent millions of dollars on these books we need to use the books approximately 30% of the time in our classrooms. We should not waste resources, but what does that mean.  If given the choice between active, authentic learning or meeting our 30%…can you see where I am going?

 So what does this have to do with technology? Until about three years ago when other people began realizing how valuable the Chromebooks would be to give students an opportunity for real life learning, I would have been  embarrassed to say that I used the Chromebooks between 60% and 80% of the week in any given week. What that boils down to is one day of lecture and four days of project, or one day of lecture, one day of book work (knowledge transfer) and three days of real life projects.  What are these real life projects that promote  authentic active learning where kids can take ownership over what they’ve made? Budgeting, figuring out take home pay, buying a car, renting an apartment, buying durable goods such as washers, how demand affects what business you should open, etc. You don’t like my ideas? Please take a moment and consider when the real Economics test is taken.  What is your answer?  My answer is, everyday AFTER the kids get out of my class.I can’t really tell who actually learned the most until 10-15 years down the road.  Makes me wonder if they will remember “Chapter 7.”

I am always adding to my projects, and I always seem to run out of time.  COVID and the readings have pointed me to my next Wildly Important Goal.  Fully 80-90 percent of in class time being spent on projects, with information transfer taking place at home.  

How did I get here? I used to teach 11th grade US History and after the STAR Test was done, I would take the last 6 weeks of school and try items that I wanted to do during the school year, but couldn’t.  Every year, I used this time for trial and error. I learned about the process, I also learned the idea of not yet. Imagine what it looked like when I tried to have students buy a car in 2000 (Y2K).  Car dealers weren’t even online so I had to get the information and disseminate it to the entire class. Now, I give kids the option to go to websites and buy any car that fits in their budget.  What has been key in my experience?  “Trial and Error.”  I’ve got to try new ideas even though they may fail miserably.

References

The “Mindset” Mindset. (2021, January 25). Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/mindset/

Dweck, C. (2020, December 02). Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’ (Opinion). Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/09/23/carol-dweck-revisits-the-growth-mindset.html

Dweck, C. (2016, January 11). Recognizing and Overcoming False Growth Mindset. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/recognizing-overcoming-false-growth-mindset-carol-dweck

The Growth Mindset. (2014, August 19). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/wh0OS4MrN3E

Moore, C. S. (2018, November 07). Five Ways to Teach Students to Be Learning Centered, Too – Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/five-ways-to-teach-students-to-be-learning-centered-too/

RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. (2010, April 01). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc?list=PLOs0lcCMEHfKWAfRRmVNhb0jEMBz2i2a_

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