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## I recently finished Jo Boaler’s new book ‘Mathematical Mindsets’ and was, as always, blown away by her work.

I learned a lot from the book and as a result am going to create some add-ons to our lesson plans and videos. Firstly, if you haven’t already been using the differentiated tasks that are in PDF format with each lesson plan and video, try them out! Jo calls them ‘low floor, high ceiling tasks’, which simply means that students of ALL abilities can access and be challenged by the same task. These tasks replace the worksheets and endless textbook questions that focus primarily on procedural fluency and instead offer students a chance to: engage in problem solving, communicate about their understanding, develop conceptual understanding and search for patterns and generalizations as well practice procedures. Some teachers are skeptical as to how one question can be used for an entire block – but trust me, it can be done and the results are very positive as it achieves so much more than procedural practice. Furthermore if you haven’t tried using groups in math class, I highly recommend it!

Before I read ‘Mathematical Mindsets’ I read ‘Math Expressions’ by Cathy Marks Krpan, which is also a great resource as it focuses on communication in learning mathematics. Both books recommend students working in groups or teams, but in slightly different ways. Both also encourage spending the appropriate time ‘training’ the students how to communicate and collaborate effectively in groups. This is a way bigger challenge than the math! These are such important skills for our students to develop and in my experience, when the groups are able to collaborate and communicate effectively, magic happens! Their engagement is through the roof, they are reasoning mathematically, debating about different approaches and answers and digging really deep into the math. It also frees up the teacher to facilitate the groups as only ONE person in the group is allowed to ask for help from the teacher and that is only after they’ve ensured that no one in the group can help. Check out some of our grade 8 students’ reflections about their experiences with working in groups. These are responses to the following three questions: 1) What do you enjoy about solving problems in a group setting? 2) What are your personal challenges working in a group? 3) Explain whether you think you had a growth or fixed mindset in today’s class.

This approach completely changes the whole class dynamics, especially if you pair it with teaching about a growth mindset as we’ve been doing. Jo’s book focuses on developing a growth mindset in mathematics and discusses that how we teach as well as what we teach can lead to either growth or fixed mindsets. I have found that all the best teaching practices in the world are ineffective when dealing with a student with a fixed mindset- and now the science backs this up! A fixed mindset student’s brain actually functions differently than a growth mindset student’s brain. If you’ve never heard of these terms – I recommend watching this TED talk (it’s just over 10 minutes long and well worth the time).