This week Two Writing Teachers posted a wonderful article by Stacey Shubitz (one of the Two Writing Teachers) about A Picture Book that Pushes the Growth Mindset.
This post coincided beautifully with the flash fiction prompt posted by Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications. Charli’s challenge is to:
In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about getting stronger.
This is a perfect prompt for a teacher as a major focus of our work is in developing children’s strengths:
Strengths as in abilities; strength as in self-esteem and self-confidence; strength as in willingness to face setbacks and try, try again; strength as in keeping on going even when the going gets tough.
The picture book discussed in the article by Stacey Shubitz is The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. Stacey suggests that the book is a great opener for discussions with children about the importance of a growth mindset.
According to Stacey, an understanding of ‘the power of having a growth mindset’ has been enabled by the work of Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist. It is grounded in a belief that
‘Someone can accomplish a lot more through hard work and dedication, rather than by relying on their smarts alone.’
I agree with Stacey that
‘Educators know the benefits of having a growth mindset, rather than having a fixed one. We learn from trial and error. There is value in failure.’
I will not quote Stacey’s article in its entirety, but suggest you pop over and read it for yourself. (If you do, and leave a comment prior to June 27th, you may win yourself a copy of The Most Magnificent Thing, if you live in the USA or Canada.)
Stacey says that “The girl in the story tries over ten times to build something and get it right. Through hard work and some help from her trust sidekick, her pug, she eventually succeeds.” As well as a starting point for discussing the growth mindset, Stacey suggests eight features of the book which are useful for teaching writing. The article also includes a brief, but informative, interview with the author/illustrator Ashley Spires.
In response to Stacey’s question about using The Most Magnificent Thing for discussing a growth mindset, Ashley responds:
‘The character is a perfectly capable girl with a great idea and the skill to make it, but she has to try, try and try again in order to succeed. Most kids (I was one of them) think that if it’s not perfect the first time, then they should move on to something that comes to them more easily. Working hard to succeed is what true success is.”
<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/89499612″>The Most Magnificent Thing Book Trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/kidscanpress”>Kids Can Press</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
My flash fiction, told through the jottings of a classroom teacher over time, shows a growth mindset emerging from one that was previously crushed.
Timid. Needed help getting things out of bag to put in drawer. Sat towards back of group. Drew knees up under chin. Hunched over. Sucked thumb. Twisted long tangled hair under nose. Rocked.
Responded in roll call! Sat with ‘friend’. Legs crossed. Back straight. Smiled – briefly. Someone looked! Screamed, “Stop looking at me!” Dissolved in tears. Again. Retreated under desk. Again.
Initiated conversation!! Hair combed!! Nose not running!! Brought toy for show and tell. Responded with one- or two-word answers. Small, dirty, pink unicorn. B laughed. Erupted, but went to desk, not under!
I welcome your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of the article or my flash fiction piece.