Prufrock Press sent me a copy of Mary Cay Ricci’s Mindsets In The Classroom. This book covers the fixed and growth mindsets from Carol Dweck’s research. Ricci’s book attacks the problem of the fixed mindset on all fronts, addressing the attitudes of students, but also of school staff and parents.
I’ve written about mindsets in an earlier article.
Updated Note: I don’t think you should read this book if you haven’t read Dweck’s original work first. It’s an easy read. It’s worth it to hear from the real researcher first.
Mindsets In The Classroom features a nice mix of practical activities that promote growth thinking in students.
The included learning tasks speak directly to students about their brains. Students discover that the brain literally grows as it learns, reinforcing effort’s importance. These quick tasks open up fascinating discussions, and Ricci includes many student samples.
She also introduces several critical thinking tasks focused on including lower achieving students. Ricci worries that these students rarely get to practice high-end thinking skills, and can easily develop an “I’m not smart” mindset. I love how Ricci lets these students become the “experts” who then teach the rest of the class.
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Ricci also addresses the mindsets of teachers since, in her own research, she found that 0% of students have the fixed mindset in kindergarten, but, by third grade, this has already grown to 42% of students. Our own schools, Ricci contends, contribute to students’ belief that their abilities are set in stone. She includes several practical ideas for exploring mindsets and brain research with school staff.
Ricci also digs deeply into differentiation and its connections to mindsets. Establishing quality preassessments, compacting curriculum, and developing appropriate tasks are all a part of supporting a growth mindset among students. In a responsive, differentiated classroom, each student should experience appropriate challenges and satisfying successes.
A Blend of Theory and Practice
Mindsets In The Classroom is filled with actionable ideas to improve school culture. It builds nicely on Dweck’s original book (which itself is surprisingly easy to read) by specifically addressing the three essential audiences: teachers, parents, and students. As a teacher who works with gifted students, you’ll find clear tasks to integrate into your classroom as well activities for staff meetings.
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