Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

What's Mindset Got To Do With It?

Growth Mindset

Lindsay Hawkins, Shayna Pond, Lindsey Link, Lindsay Williams | Published: November 22nd, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level Secondary
  • Subject Subject Growth Mindset
  • Course Course Any Secondary Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 80 - 120 minutes
  • Duration More 2 - 3 class periods


This interactive inquiry-based lesson focuses on how our mindset impacts how we engage and approach different situations throughout life. Students will reflect on their own mindset and current beliefs that affect growth and fixed mindset. Students will develop a plan to foster a growth mindset.

Essential Question(s)

How can our thoughts and beliefs about failure affect our success in school and life?



Students reflect upon a personal challenge within school or life and how their beliefs impacted their approach to that experience.


Student pairs sort statements into two categories: Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset.


Students watch the video(s) about mindset and then apply their new knowledge to the previously sorted statements by providing justification for the current placement of each statement or the movement for statements.


Students articulate their understanding of the two types of mindsets and construct real-life examples for both using the Frayer Model.


Students self-evaluate how they can recognize their own fixed mindsets and adjust them to be more open to a growth mindset.



15 Minute(s)

Begin by displaying slides 2-4 of the attached Lesson Slides to introduce the lesson, the essential question, and the lesson’s objectives. Display slide 5 and explain that the session begins with a modified version of the instructional strategy Think-Pair-Share, in which the students first think, then write their responses down, and then pair and share out their responses with a partner.

Move to slide 6. Pose the first three questions to students, allowing them time to reflect upon each question and then record their response before moving onto the next question in the set. Once all students have a response recorded, they use the next 3-5 minutes to share their responses with their partners.

  1. Think of a time in your life when you worked really hard at something (maybe it was something challenging or difficult).

  2. Why did you spend so much time or put so much effort working on it?

  3. How did you "grow" from that experience? What did you learn?

Next, display slide 7 and have students begin to discuss the last two questions as a whole group. Keep in mind, we are not formalizing or defining terms for a Growth or Fixed Mindset yet. That occurs naturally later in the lesson. To begin the whole group discussion, ask students, “Based on what you and your partner discussed, can you grow when dealing with situations that are challenging or you don’t like or enjoy?” Allow students to briefly share a few thoughts and examples.

Then ask, “What would happen if you approached all situations that you do not like or find challenging with the same mindset or attitude?” Allow students to reflect and then share a few responses.


30 Minute(s)

Now that your students have had an opportunity to reflect on a specific time when they worked hard and how those situations impact our attitudes or mindsets, allow them to explore some mindset statements. These statements demonstrate both a fixed and a growth mindset. Students work in small groups using both the Growth and Fixed Mindset Card Sort and the Card Sort Placemat to complete the activity. This Card Sort activity has a variety of statements that demonstrate both fixed and growth mindsets. The goal for your students, right now, is to explore the different statements with a partner and see if they can determine which type of mindset it is that they are reading about.

Display slide 8 to introduce this activity. Students need to have a basic understanding of the terms “Growth” and “Fixed” on the Card Sort Placemat. Ask students what those two words could mean in this context. If they are unsure, ask them what the root ‘grow’ and ‘fixed’ mean to them. Furthermore, ask how would they describe those words or what examples might they provide to a younger child.

This activity sets the stage for student inquiry about both growth and fixed mindsets. Students should not worry about right or wrong answers when sorting these statements. They revisit the Card Sort later on in the lesson and are allowed to adjust the placement of any statement.

After students have completed the card sort activity, display slide 9 and instruct them to watch one or more of the following videos independently:

Have students use the attached Frayer Model as a note sheet while they watch the assigned video(s). They should record definitions, characteristics, examples, and non-examples on the document.


15 Minute(s)

After watching the video(s) and recording a few notes about growth mindset on their Frayer Model, student pairs briefly discuss the video(s) they watched and what they recorded on their Frayer Model. Their video notes should be similar, but depending upon the video(s) watched and a student’s prior experience, they may have connected with different characteristics and examples. These similarities and differences should be applied as they revisit their card sort from earlier in the lesson.

Students apply their new understanding of growth and fixed mindsets by reviewing the sorted cards on slide 10. While reviewing the sorted cards, students should do two things: (1) move statement cards as needed based on their deeper understanding of growth and fixed mindset and (2) discuss the justification for each placement, why it signifies growth or fixed mindset. Walk around and listen to the student discussions as they are working.

Once all of the groups have finalized their card sorts, display slide 11 and instruct students to choose one sorted statement that was either easy or hard for them to sort. They record that statement at the bottom of their Frayer Model document, along with why it was easy or difficult to place and their justification for the final placement.

Student pairs share their selection with the whole group to wrap up that activity.


15 Minute(s)

Students should now begin to consider how growth and fixed mindsets impact the way they approach situations in their own life. You may facilitate the next four questions as a whole group discussion, or allow students to first individually reflect and then share a few responses with the whole group.

Allowing students to formalize their understanding of a growth mindset, display slide 12 and ask, “What does Growth Mindset mean to you?” Then ask students the three questions listed below. These questions allow students to gain a deeper personal understanding of their mindset and encourage reflective thinking and student conversation.

  1. How has your thinking about struggle and failure changed in light of this new information?

  2. How does knowing about a growth mindset change the way you treat yourself when you struggle and fail?

  3. How does believing in a growth mindset change the way you approach a new challenge or something difficult?


20 Minute(s)

To evaluate students’ understanding of mindset, display slide 13 and allow them to choose one of the videos below to watch. While watching the video, students should identify examples and situations within the speaker’s story that displayed either a growth or a fixed mindset. Additionally, students consider how the actions and words of others could have impacted the speaker’s mindset. These examples should be recorded on the Frayer Model sheet from earlier under the Example and Non-example titles.

After students watch one of the videos and have identified examples, debrief what was recorded and how their stories can inspire us to develop a growth mindset.

Now that students can identify a growth mindset and the situations or experiences that impact it, it is time for them to identify when they have a fixed mindset. If we can name it, we can change it! Using the Student Growth Mindset Goal Activity Sheet, have your students brainstorm a few situations or experiences they approached with a fixed mindset. This activity is most effective if the statements are personal internal or external struggles, obstacles, or challenges they have encountered. However, if they cannot think of any personal examples, they may use statements or ideas explored throughout the lesson. An example is attached. Once the fixed mindset examples are recorded, they rephrase and reframe them to construct a growth mindset. They should create a goal for how they plan to overcome that fixed mindset. 

To help guide students through the process, display the questions on slide 14:

  1. THINK of a situation or experience that you approach with a fixed mindset.

  2. WHY does that situation or experience keep you from success or how does it challenge you?

  3. WHAT can you do to approach the situation or experience with a growth mindset?

  4. WHO might help you succeed?

    WHO might hinder your success?

  5. WHAT other strategies could you apply to accomplish this growth mindset?

  6. CREATE a growth mindset goal statement.

As students adapt their mindsets and begin to shift from fixed to growth, they can revisit their statements on the Student Growth Mindset Goal Activity Sheet and celebrate their growth. Each time they work to develop their own growth mindset they should color in one of the wrinkles on the brain. The goal is for students to work throughout the year, across all subjects, to develop a growth mindset. Developing a growth mindset is a journey. Students should recognize the growth and change within their mindsets and celebrate it. This would be similar to celebrating one’s success in academics or extracurricular activities.

Follow-up Activities

It is very important to remember that this activity doesn't end when the bell rings! Your students are setting a personal goal to grow in an area that they may really struggle in and you'll need to continue to check in with them. Check-in does not have to be extensive or take a lot of time, rather it can be short, one time a week when you follow-up to see if they're practicing those growth mindset statements. The best part about the Student Growth Mindset Goal Activity Sheet handout is that the student colors it in as they go, making it very easy for you to see if they're making progress towards achieving a growth mindset. Check-ins are a great way to foster your students' growth and hold them accountable.