I love videos of robots messing up tasks. Here’s a favorite:
It’s just hilarious to watch a robot fail so spectacularly. Then I saw this video:
At first, my wife and I were rolling in laughter. His attempts were so ridiculous. But then… the darn robot figured it out, and became a master pancake flipper.
There’s a powerful lesson about learning here. I realize this robot has no mind, but he definitely has a growth mindset.
Can we turn this into a lesson? You bet! Here’s the first idea I came up with. We’ll address the opinion writing standards. This is the first CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W standard for most grades.
- Discuss growth and fixed mindset. If your students aren’t familiar with the concept, you can introduce with my we only get stronger when it gets difficult chat. I also wrote about growth mindset here.
- Once your student are comfortable with the two mindsets, show just the first minute of the robot video. This is where he gets initial instruction, then fails several times.
- Create two pieces of writing: advice from the growth mindset, and advice from the fixed mindset. These writings could be short letters, speeches, or even poetry. Make sure students write a clear opinion, backed up with evidence.
- The next day (or later that week), watch the final piece of the video (1:20 on).
- Now students write a second piece from each point of view. Obviously one will be celebratory and one will be awkwardly apologetic.
Example Initial Writings
Since we’re going to have four pieces of writing in the end, you might have kids fold a paper in half, then use both sides so they’ll have four boxes to write in.
Here’s the first writing piece using a letter format:
You have tried twenty times and cannot get the pancake right. It’s probably time to give up and try something else. Other robots are just better than you at flipping pancakes.
And here’s the growth mindset version:
I love how you keep flipping those pancakes, even though you aren’t having much success yet. I want you to keep trying because each mistake will teach you something.
They don’t have to be letters! Here’s the same idea, but using a haiku rather than a letter.
fail after fail. just stop
others are better
Growth mindset version:
each mistake teaches
you are getting better
you are almost there
Second Writing Piece
Later in the week, after you show the second video, students write a second version from each point of view. Here’s the haiku example:
my advice was wrong
turns out you can get better
you are a master
struggles were worth it
when I see those pancakes fly
What Else Could You Do?
I love starting with an interesting puzzlement (find many here!) and brainstorming lesson ideas. This is just one possibility for the pancake-flipping video. Can you come up with other ways to connect to your content?