Mindset Assessments (Journal Writing) in 2nd Grade

Weekly writing prompts to get students thinking about a growth mindset & for the teacher to be able to monitor growth of each student's mindset.

I first gave a pre-assessment in which I asked students to choose between two math problems, one being very easy and the other more challenging.  Students had to explain their reasons for their choice, so it was interesting to see that even students who were very capable of solving the more complex problem chose to do the easier one.  

After teaching about how the brain gets stronger when it works on more challenging activities, I continued to use similar prompts to invite students to choose between easier and more challenging activities, for example, “Would you rather write your own opinion essay or copy the teachers’ writing?” I was pleased to see that the more we talked about growth mindset, more students were beginning to explain that they wanted to try the more difficult choice.  Here are some of the student responses to that question:

  • I would rather do my own opinion writing because I would learn and my brain would get bigger, and it’s your own idea!
  • I would rather write my own because I can learn from my mistakes so when I write the next opinion I know to not make that mistake.
  • I would rather copy the teachers’ opinion writing because it is easier than writing my own opinion writing, writing my own opinion is hard because I have to think about 3 reasons, some details, and a conclusion

Other Mindset writing prompts I used, along with some student responses:

How do you feel when you try to do something new that is difficult?

  • When you try something new and you can’t do it, it is because you didn’t practice yet.
  • If you can’t do something like playing basketball you could always say “I can’t play basketball YET" because you can’t do it right now.
  • When you try something new you might make mistakes but it's ok because you can learn something new and get used to it.
  • When I try something new I don’t get frustrated. I just keep trying and trying and trying until I get it because if I cry, crying is not helping.
  • You can’t do it yet because you're not used to it and you might be frustrated or tired. You might have messed up but it's ok you will get used to it.
What do you think about making mistakes?
  • When I fail something I sometimes get sad and upset but when I did it I feel happy!!
  • I like making mistakes because I can learn new things, I feel a little frustrated.
  • I don’t like to fail because it makes me feel mad and that I have to do something like a math test again.
  • I feel good when I make mistakes because I learn from that mistake so next time I know what to do.
  • I like to fail because if you always get it right you don’t learn anything.

Would you rather make a mistake in front of the class, or just in front of the teacher?

  • I feel normal making mistakes because my teacher loves mistakes and if you don’t make any mistakes you're not challenging your brain to learn anything.
  • When I make a mistake in class I feel a little embarrassed and happy because I can learn from the mistake I made.
  • I would rather make a mistake in front of the teacher because she will tell me what to do next time.

What would you say to a friend who is feeling frustrated?

  • I would tell my friend that “it’s ok you just need more practice on that for a few minutes. If you practice a day or two you will get even more better!”
  • If my friend was crying because they made a mistake then I would tell them that if he or she can do it, than you can do it, just believe in yourself.
Is it important to have a growth mindset?  Why?
  • I think having a growth mindset is important because if you have a fixed mindset it’s like your body is shut off and you can only think of that one mistake.
  • I think it is important to have a growth mindset because if you had a fixed mind you will never learn anything and you will say I give up, and if you had a growth mindset you will never give up and say I can’t do this yet or I love this challenge.
  • I think it is important to have a growth mindset because if you have a growth mindset you are not giving up, you just have to practice and practice for just 10 or 20 more minutes, it will help you a lot on the thing that you are stuck on.                           
-lesson created by Isabelle
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