What intrigued me most after reading was a shift in the concept of what intelligence is.
I was fascinated to see data showing that intelligence has now been proven to be changeable. Ricci described a test that was done as part of a study on IQ. Participants played a brain-boosting game over a long period of time. They got better and better at the challenge, and improved in game performance. When IQ was re-tested afterward, the scores increased!
Like many teachers, I did not realize how truly fluid our IQ levels can be. We were taught as kids that the IQ was the part that you could not change, even as you acquired knowledge.
It turns out that most teachers do not even know what the IQ and cognitive tests even measure. Ricci explained in the book that as we look at our students' scores, most of us do not even know what is being measured! I enjoyed taking a deeper look into my own mindsets regarding intelligence.
This led into a comparison of growth and fixed mindsets, a very popular idea in education these days:
I had already seen this comparison all over the place lately, and it's really important to develop these mindsets. I know it is something I need to work on, but what intrigued me even more was learning about neuroplasticity.
New evidence gives more and more emphasis on neuroplasticity. Our brains are constantly forming new connections, and clearing out old unused ones.
I realized that it's important to show students some of this research, because as they get older, they start to settle into concepts of who is smarter or more capable in different subject areas. I have seen it lead them to give up.
Some of these messages are more subtle than others, but you hear them CONSTANTLY, especially in math class. Even some parents at conferences tend to shrug off being "not math people" or categorize the child into the "smart, high-scoring group" or the "low group." We are surrounding our students with these messages, and it can be really hard to adjust the way we talk to shift these mindsets.
These comments reflect a mix of different parts of both growth mindset and fixed mindset. Our challenge is to help students develop a healthy mental approach to learning.
In the Mindsets in the Classroom book, Ricci showed her data from observing students in different grade levels. It was interesting to see that students in kindergarten displayed 100% growth mindset! Each year of primary school, it dropped lower and lower, until in 3rd grade, growth mindset dropped to 58% and fixed mindset was 42%.
Obviously, teaching teens, we really have our work cut out for us. Our students have spent years settling into their ideas of "who is smart at what."
Here are a few things we can do to get more students aware of their own mindsets and try to shift them a little more towards the growth mindset side.
You might also like...
-- a complete, free lesson on exponents --(with a collection of all the resources you need)
Grade Level: 5/6
Skills: understanding & simplifying a basic exponential expression (b^n)
Materials: colored pencils, calculator, 1 computer with youtube access, Exponents "Doodle Note" sheet, Exponents worksheet, Exponent card sets, and "Understanding the Power of Exponents" half sheet (all free downloads)
Time: 60 min
1. Start with the basics - vocabulary and concept. Distribute the Exponents "Doodle Notes" worksheet. Remind students that when they first learned multiplication, it was represented as repeated addition. Now, the concept of simplifying an exponent can be represented like repeatedly multiplying.
Guide the class to complete the note sheet, and allow time for students to embellish, complete the examples, color, and answer. (See the benefits of this format here.)
Emphasize the difference between the "base" and the "exponent" and discuss special situations, like powers of 1 and 0. Stop after 15 minutes, as students will have more time to work through the problems and color later (or they can finish for homework).
-- 15 min --
Click the image for the free file download.
2. Stations - Split your students into groups that will rotate through three learning stations. At each station, they will practice or investigate exponents further.
Some take longer than others, so it is a perfect time for them to continue the independent portions of the note sheet at any station that they finish early.
-- 10-15 min per station --
When students finish the task at a station, they can continue working on the "doodle note" sheets until it is time to move on.
For more lesson ideas, free downloads, and updates, sign up for the Math Giraffe email list:
Check out these related posts for more ideas:
A recent study proved that doodling actually INCREASES focus and the ability to recall new information. With these color-it-in, doodle-friendly note methods, your students can use their colored pencils and the right side of their brains, and then remember key vocabulary, math examples, and new concepts more easily.
Benefits of the "Doodle Note" Strategy:
Students are so engaged with these, and they love this structure. It's so neat to see and hear the connections that stick in their brains. You can truly see the learning and memory benefits at work when students say, "Yeah! I remember when you said that as I was doing little dots around the word "midpoint" and I wrote that formula right in the corner with my orange pen! That's how I remembered it on the test!"
Added bonuses include:
- relaxation and decreased math anxiety
- super engaged students
- excitement about "customizing" the page (They LOVE doodle days!)
- an end result that they want to pull out, show off, and reference as a study tool as much as possible because they are so proud of it
- stronger retention, leading to higher test scores
- brain boosts in other areas, such as creativity & problem solving
I've got free downloads for you to try to see how amazing these are at keeping students focused and engaged. The right brain / left brain crossover is so important in math class!
Why Visual Note-Taking Works:
The student brain processes text information separately from visual input. When we can combine the two, we activate the neural pathways that allow new information to more easily be transferred into long-term memory.
This principle is called Dual Coding Theory, and is one of the biggest reasons that the doodle note strategy leads to stronger retention of lesson material.
Learn More About the Brain Benefits:
These additional articles and downloads will guide you through getting started with doodle notes! There are more free resources, tips for implementation, and more!
First, check out these two articles on Dual Coding theory, which supports this approach to teaching by blending text and images through visual note taking. It turns out that this is a more accurate theory than the popular "learning styles" philosophy.
Dive in to learn about why learning styles are not actually such a valid theory to teach from, and how to use dual coding, which brain research points to as a stronger model of how student brains process information:
Then, explore more articles, a free handbook for getting started with doodle notes in your own classroom. If you teach math, you can also shop for pre-made doodle note sets for math concepts.
Click the images for links!
For more about the brain benefits and research, be sure to check out doodlenotes.org as well!
Want to hear from teacher who are using the doodle note strategy each day in their own classrooms? Head to the "in the classroom" page that I have compiled there to read firsthand testimonials, tips, and tricks for implementing this method successfully.
If you are hoping to dive right in, there are a lot of options. You can get pre-made math sets here in my printables shop, or you can learn to create your own with training, templates, and graphics provided for you in the Doodle Note Club. If you want to keep it simple, just try some templates or DIY sticker sets for a low-prep quick start.
Enter your email in the box below to receive the free doodle note set on quadrilaterals. Give it a try in your classroom. (Or, if you teach another subject, head to my TPT shop to check out the free DIY doodle note sticker set - they work for any lesson and allow students to convert any blank notebook page into a doodle note page easily!)
Click to set custom HTML