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Growth Mindset in Writing Workshop + Giveaway

“When a child has lost hope in the belief that he or she can achieve, there is no educational prescription or program that will light the lamp of learning.”

-Dr. Kevin Sheehan and Jessica Ryan

In writing, and in life, a growth mindset is paramount. When writers talk about those terrible first drafts and the idea that you “get it down, then fix it up”, there is a sense of hope that what I write today can be improved, revised, and made into something worthy of reading. In our classrooms, most of us have students who come to us believing they cannot write. How do we help them believe they can be, and often already are, writers? How do we teach a growth mindset, along with all the other aspects of writing that require explicit instruction?

Dr. Kevin Sheehan and Jessica Ryan’s new book, Growing a Growth Mindset: Unlocking Character Strengths through Children’s Literature (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017) aims to teach students specific aspects of a growth mindset through children’s literature. I had the opportunity to contribute a lesson to this book, on the dangers of being a “natural”, using the book Noel the First, by Kate McMullan, as the mentor text. 15 books and lessons are shared, as well as an introduction to using positive psychology with children and a final section that brings everything together, providing additional resources.

Jessica Ryan, the co-author of this book, is an elementary school teacher in the Lynbrook School District and an adjunct professor at Molloy College. Jessica took some time to answer my questions about teaching writing with a growth mindset.

KS: What did you learn about yourself as a writer and a teacher of writing from your experience co-authoring this book? What are the implications for your teaching?

JR: I have helped guide my fourth grade students through writing hundreds of books in my teaching career using the Writer’s Workshop model; however, this was the first time that I was able to see it come to life from the perspective of a writer! The process is very similar, but instead of being able to switch to a new genre after a few weeks, this was truly a labor of love! My co-author (Kevin) and I extensively worked to develop a resource for teachers and parents to understand and teach the positive psychology constructs of growth mindset, grit, hope, happiness, and character strengths through children’s literature. We utilized each of our strengths to collaborate on this book.

While I have created class anthologies, I have never had students co-author pieces. I think this would be an interesting venture in the classroom. I would like students to co-construct a piece for an authentic purpose. Imagine the possibilities!

KS: How does using literature to teach growth mindset connect to student writers? 

JR: After field testing these lessons with my class, I noticed something interesting happen. I started to see lessons of growth mindset embedded within their writing. I read personal narratives that had messages of the importance of grit in the face of obstacles and poems that reflected on mistakes as opportunities for growth.

Reading stories and having purposeful discussions with these growth mindset messages provided my students with an anchor to make connections. The lessons and experiences transcended past the book discussion and activity into their writing. While I have always used mentor texts as model for writing, this new perspective added to the voice of my students across the curriculum.

KS: How can teachers incorporate the ideas of growth mindset in their writing instruction?

JR: Teachers need to create a culture of grit. As writers, students need to show passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. The process of making personal student goals allows the writer to take ownership over their learning. This requires the mindset that even though failure could be looming, it is vital to take risks to grow.

I can’t think of a grittier process than revising. By encouraging students to revisit pieces and to try to refine them, you are asking them to be resilient in realizing their pieces aren’t perfect. It takes a lot of perseverance to continually try to improve something you’ve worked diligently on.

KS: You collaborated with Dr. Kevin Sheehan to write this book, as well as contributing authors who shared lessons. What are your reflections on writing with a partner and what implications does that have for teaching students about writing partnerships?

JR: One of the positive psychology constructs we address is character strengths in the form of synergy. This focuses on the power of combining your character strengths with others. This book is really a testament to that. Many master teachers contributed powerful lessons to Growing a Growth Mindset: Unlocking Character Strengths Through Children’s Literature. This highly collaborative effort allows for a variety of perspectives and lessons. Without Kevin’s strength of perspective, the vision for this book wouldn’t have been possible.

The idea of synergy is also essential to writing partnerships. The implications are that it’s important for students to pair up with someone who has different strengths. By reading other student work, they are able to recognize some positive attributes (“glows”); in addition, students are able to make constructive criticism (“grows”) to help improve the piece. This is brought to life in Angela Abend’s lesson using Going Places  as a vehicle to apply the concept of synergy in the Marshmallow Challenge.

KS: Anything else you want to share about the experience of writing a book? 

JR: Surround yourself with hope creators who have vision when starting a new venture. Kevin worked to spread ripples of hope for teachers and parents; this research showed that with the right tools and training, it is possible to grow a growth mindset. My encouraging colleagues at Waverly Park were able to put these ideas into action while piloting the lessons. As Megan Pavlick eloquently stated in her chapter on unleashing strengths, “If others show appreciation for one’s strengths and passions, it is more likely that they may serve as hope creators when life gets challenging.”

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Growing a Growth Mindset: Unlocking Character Strengths through Children’s Literature. Many thanks to Jessica Ryan for donating an autographed copy for one lucky reader.
  • For a chance to win, please leave a comment on this post by Friday, March 31, by 11:59 pm EST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid email address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, I will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your email address will not be published online if you leave it in the email field only.)
  • If you are the winner of this book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS- GROWING A GROWTH MINDSET. Please respond to my email within 5 days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response is not received within 5 days of the giveaway announcement.

117 thoughts on “Growth Mindset in Writing Workshop + Giveaway Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book. I enjoyed reading the interview, and I learned about the Reynolds’ book Going Places for the first time. I’m sure there are other books in the lessons that will be new to me as well. My students are familiar with mindset through the Big Idea videos on ClassDojo. I look forward to reading this and adding to my knowledge about teaching a growth mindset.

    Thanks,
    Denise

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  2. Would love a copy of your book. Teaching writing is a struggle for me. We don’t use a writing program and I also teach Special Education in a resource setting. I only havery students for 30 minutes 2 days per week. Using growth mindset with my students for years. Great program and way of thinking! Thank you!!

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  3. This resource looks great. I believe mindset is important in anything you do. I would love some new ideas for students in writing. Thanks:)

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  4. So happy you shared this book with the Two Writing Teachers community! I have loved hearing about it throughout the process at our local conferences. I would love the chance to win a copy!

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  5. This would be a very valuable resource to me since I am a 4th and 5th grade reading and writing teacher. I love how Mrs. Ryan incorporates children’s literature in the writing process. Growth mindset is crucial. Because my school isn’t provided with state money for professional development, I hope that I win this text so that I can grow and make changes in my classes. Great interview!

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  6. I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts about grit. This book sounds like a great resource to help our kids unlock their inner ‘grittiness.’

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  7. I absolutely LOVE this book! I have been using a “Growth Mindset” within the last two years after reading Carol Dweck’s book. The difference in my students and their achievement is monumental. Safe environments foster growth in literacy! I can’t wait to dive in and grow with this new resource! Thank you, Kevin and Jessica!!

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  8. Sounds like an awesome idea. By the time I get my students in 9th grade so many of them have already given up and are convinced that they will never be able to succeed. I really think that this is something we need to be teaching our kiddos starting in preschool.

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  9. I have been using growth mindset mentor texts in my classroom during the past 3 years. It’s hit or miss at best. I would welcome a resource to help me solidify my approach. So intriguing to use it to drive writers workshop! This book would make a powerful professional bookclub centerpiece.

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  10. Growth mindset is so important, especially in this day and age where needs can be met instantaneously. Crossing my fingers for this special chance! Thank you for the opportunity!

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  11. Interestingly enough, I facilitated a book study with our entire elementary school staff using “Opening Minds,” by Peter Johnston. I think “Growing a Growth Mindset” would be a wonderful follow-up read. Students (and teachers) DO need to know that we can learn from mistakes; it is ok to take risks; and everyone can get better.

    Writing workshop could be a great place to develop this growth mindset.

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  12. Learning about growth vs. fixed mindset has had a positive impact on my students. In our literature discussions we have talked about whether a character has a growth mindset or not. I would love to read this book and share the lessons with my students.

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  13. Getting my third graders to take positive risks with their writing has always been a challenge for me. Using engaging texts to encourage them seems like a great way to go.

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  14. As a writing facilitator for over 160 sixth graders, I’m always focused on the latest trends in the teaching of writing. Reading about this book has made me curious to learn more about inspiring a growth mindset in each of my students!

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  15. I think children’s literature is a great vehicle for teaching students growth mindset habits of mind. Our school is working on this. I look forward to reading this book to gather more ideas, and of course, more books! 🙂

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  16. I love that your first question for Jessica was not about the book, but about her “Teacher as Writer” experience. It is something I wish for all of our colleagues, the chance to authentically connect with that identity. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. We have been working with our students on growth mindset and encouraging them to talk about “Not yet” rather than “I can’t”. Using literature is a great way to bring this message in another form.

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  18. Very exciting to have a growth mindset book specifically for writing workshop! We could definitely use this resource in my school.

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  19. Carol Dweck’s work is crucial in helping students become lifelong learners. With so much misapplication of her work, this resource proves to be anrefreshing guide I writing. Thank you for sharing.

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  20. I have been struggling this year with how to instill the grit in my students. I do think that culture of grit is weakening. I can’t wait to read this book and get some guidance!

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  21. Writing IS revising. Students need to cultivate the stamina to go back and revise (literally look at the writing again) in response to strategies taught and individual coaching. Students without growth mindset in writing as always “done.”

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  22. Growty Mindset us a hot topic right now. This books looks like an interesting read. Thank you for the opportunity to receive a free copy. When I think of writing or any learning in the classroom, I think of the importance of creating a safe community that encourages risk taking .

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  23. I am so excited for this book! Two of my favorite teaching philosophies uniting to make a Super Class! A must read for me!!! Thank you! 📓✏️📝❤️☮️☯️🌠

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  24. Our staff is currently doing a book study about growth mindset. This book would be a valuable resource. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

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  25. As a believer in growth mindset and the power of well-written children’s literature, I am so pleased to find the two married in one book. I look forward to using this resource in my role as a literacy coach.

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  26. I think teachers often focus on the product and lose sight of the process. To truly focus on the writing process and conferencing with students during workshop, we MUST have a growth mindset. Thank you for sharing this resource 🙂

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  27. As we move to a more personalized education system, growth mindset should flood all areas of thought! I’m so excited to learn more from this book.

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  28. I am excited to read this book and curious to see how it can apply to middle school, as well! Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

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  29. Growth mindset is important for educators as well as students. We model for our students what learning looks like. Thanks for a great post!

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  30. This year growth mindset has been a topic of discussion during PLC meetings. Thank you for sharing this resource as I will pass along to my colleagues.

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  31. @betsytalor What a great idea to also develop the growth mindset in parents as well as students! We could all use a dose of growth mindset. We have 3 or 4 Literacy Nights throughout the year. Having a growth mindset theme for the year might be just the thing to help do that.

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  32. We have been working on developing growth mindset with our students and our parent community for the past two years. This would be a great addition to our resources because growth mindset is particularly fitting for struggling writers.

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  33. I would love to devour this book. So far, the growth mindset work I have seen surrounds math and science. Can’t wait to read something specific with literature!

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  34. I have been helping my you kinders focus more on growth mindset and it has really changed their thought processes as they approach learning new things. I have especially seen it empower them as they learn about writing through writer’s workshop. I think this book will help me in my own learning endeavors. Thank you for the opportunity.

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  35. Our schools have done a lot of work with growth mindset. This book looks like an excellent resource for connecting growth mindset with readers’ workshop!

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  36. For the first time this year, I had my 5th graders co-author stories for our parent newsletter. It took a lot of modeling and it felt like a big risk for me. I was open about that risk and I told my students that had no idea how it would turn out. I was going to feel the fear but do it anyway. I wanted to connect with my students about the risks that we take as writers. It turned about to be a wonderful experience that we will repeat in the upcoming weeks.
    I look forward to reading your book.

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  37. Our school is all about the growth mindset. However we have few resources to teach the concept to the kids. This resource sounds perfect.

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  38. I would love for our Responsive Instruction Core Team next year to focus on grit. The lessons in this text will be instrumental to helping promote the concept.

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  39. Thank you for sharing this interview with Jessica Ryan! When students develop a Growth Mindset, they are unstoppable. This book looks fabulous, and I’d love to own it!

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