Every now and then you come to one of those all-stop, let’s-just-look-at-this-for-a-while documents. This from the Carnegie Foundation is one of those artifacts. It’s pretty lengthy, and there are lots of words. Still, let’s just look at it for a while, shall we? (You’ll probably need to open it up in another window or download it)

True, this is aimed at college professors, but mapping it onto K-12 is a near 1-t0-1 relationship.

Consider this an internal (now external) dialogue based on my commitment to spend some time swimming in the social and emotional aspect of math instruction. I had the privilege of wrestling with this document with some thoughtful math facilitators. Some teachers began mapping out some of the intervention strategies for their class. Others discussed how to bring it to their entire department, or even school.

I found the following strand particularly resonant:

Students believe they are capable of learning math –> 

Faculty emphasize effort and strategies rather than luck or lack of ability as explanations for success or failure.

I like how the document continues to unpack that critical element, trying to better diagnose the problem (or name the success if you’d prefer to be positive, which this document is). The far right Change Ideas (interventions) are sometimes non-specific (“Students complete growth mindset writing exercise”), but I’m hopeful with the continued rollout of Jo Boaler’s youcubed.org, there will be some more potential for mapping strategies.

Still, the intervention strategies are just dripping with goodness:

  • Students write about their worries before an exam.
  • Have routines for noticing attendance and participation.
  • Train faculty in how to reinforce that productive struggle and effort can produce deeper math understanding.

/thinks back my college math experience

//dies from laughter at the notion of any of my math professors thinking about growth mindset in any way, shape, or form

So, anyway, I like this piece a lot. However, I know I’m rather prone to apply technical solutions to challenges that are often adaptive in nature. Sometimes I treated and treat challenges in a whack-a-mole style when it’s more foundational. Still, I also like actionable next-steps.

So what about you? What do you find resonant? What intervention strategies will you or have you tried? What would a “growth mindset writing exercise” look like?


PS. Update on my previous social/emotional elements of instruction post. Huge thanks to the resources shared in the comments. This post from a now apparently defunct blog shared by Michelle and Max’s book shared by Kate were great next steps. 

I also received an incredible email from Benjamin that I’m still working through. Ben, I’m trying to figure out the best way to publish that incredibly reflective commentary. 

3 thoughts on “Conditions, Preexisting Conditions, and Treatment

  1. That document is extremely helpful. Never before have I seen someone lay out exactly what steps you can take to address these classroom / student culture pieces.

  2. I teach in developmental education at a private college and I am glad I came across this. Developmental education students usually struggle with mathematics. I have used some of these to help students understand mathematics better. It’s nice that I have a more complete list to help with those problems that I didn’t have a complete handle on or a great answer to.

  3. I’ve been trying to develop growth mindset writing prompts this year and use them to redirect our classroom culture. After the first test I gave a writing prompt based on this article: http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/a-really-hard-test-really-helps-learning-6964/. Many of my students struggle with reading, so I had to excerpt and adjust the text, then spend a chunk of class time making sense of it before giving the actual writing prompt.

    After the second test I used a couple brief clips from Jo Boaler’s class, How to Learn Math–the session about making mistakes–to set up the writing prompt.

    After the third test I used this Ben Orlin post (http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2013/07/11/learning-is-a-flourescent-light/) to set up a creative writing assignment. (These were really fun to read.)

    I can email you the actual documents I handed the students if you’re interested.

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