Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Mindset Makeover

Lindsay Hawkins, Shayna Pond, Lindsay Williams | Published: April 6th, 2022 by K20 Center


The Mindset Makeover PD focuses on increasing teacher knowledge about growth mindset and how it can be fostered in their classrooms. Through this interactive session, participants will review research on growth mindset and develop their own goals for applying the research to classroom practices.

Essential Question

How can our perceptions and beliefs affect our learning outcomes?

Learning Goals

  • Reflect on your own mindset and your current classroom practices to support a growth mindset.

  • Apply research-based practices to foster the development of student growth.

  • Create a plan of action to continue to foster a growth mindset.

Materials List

  • Magnetic Statement Meme posters

  • Research statement cards

  • Chart paper (one for each group)

  • Card Sorts

  • Pledge cards

  • Markers

  • Mindset self-assessment

  • Authenticity Framework Reflection Tool


Provide all handouts and materials to participants as the activity begins.

Show slide 2: Briefly introduce the session and facilitator(s) for the session.

Show slide 3: Examine the Essential Question: "How can our perceptions and beliefs affect our learning outcomes?" Advise participants that they will revisit this question throughout the presentation.

Transition to slide 5. Facilitate a whole group discussion using the reflection questions below (slides 5 and 6):

  1. Think of a time when you believed you did not have a natural talent to succeed in an activity. How did that belief influence your effort in that activity?

  2. Now, think of an area in your life where you have worked hard to succeed. How many hours of work have you spent on improving your success in this area?

Have participants share out after each question has been asked.

Transition to slide 7. Revisit the Essential Question: "How can our perceptions and beliefs affect our learning outcomes?" Repeat that this question should be kept in mind as we work our way through this interactive session.

Show slide 8. After a brief review of the Essential Question, have the participants take the "Mindset Self-Assessment." There is a paper version attached to this activity, but many online options also exist. Use the assessment that is best for you and your participants. Some free assessments can be found at or

After participants complete their mindset assessments (and scored it if they are doing paper), provide some space for discussion:

  • What did you notice about the assessment?

  • Were your results what you expected?

  • Were there any statements you struggled with answering?

Show slide 9. Wrap up the discussion by framing the next activity, and transition to the session objectives. To transition, consider sharing something like, "Today we are going to look at research so we can all grow our knowledge on growth mindset. Today's learning may challenge some of you more than others, and you may not agree with everything we discuss. Each of us is on an individual journey towards better serving students." Then highlight the session objectives.


Shift to slide 10, drawing attention to the meme posters around the room displaying the magnetic statements.

  1. What if I told you . . . you will get better if you practice?

  2. What we think we become.

  3. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

  4. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.

  5. Failure is not the opposite of success. It's part of success.

Instruct participants to stand by the statement they feel most drawn to or repelled by. This will form the groups for the next activity. If too many are in one group, ask some to go to their second choice. Roughly even out the groups as needed since these groups will continue to work together for the next activity displayed on next slide.

Display slide 11. Instruct the small groups to review selected statements (or quotes) about growth mindset. Ask participants in each group to take turns reading aloud and discussing each of the research cards.

Remind participants to focus on the importance of that statement or quote and how it supports a growth mindset. Advise them to set aside and revisit at the end of the session any statement that the group is not ready to discuss or uncertain of the connection to a growth mindset.

When groups have discussed the quotes, ask them to summarize their discussion of the research by creating a CSI poster. Invite them to integrate how the meme they chose holds up in light of the research they were provided. Announce that their posters will be shared with the whole group.

Display slide 12 as you provide directions for how to create the CSI poster. On chart paper, each group will divide the poster into quarters. In the top left, they will choose a color they feel represents the message of a growth mindset supported by their research statements. Then they will draw a symbol for a growth mindset in the top right. In the bottom left, they will draw a scene or an image that relates to both the growth mindset and their group's chosen meme.

Display slide 13. Each small group will share and explain why they chose the color, symbol, and image as a way to summarize their research statements. Encourage groups to select one research statement to read aloud to the whole group if there is time.


Use the quote on slide 14 from Jo Boaler's book Limitless Mind to set up the video about Giftedness (slide 15).

"[Giftedness] is a social comparison that causes students who arrive at school excited to learn - to quickly decide that they are not good enough." (Bolar, 2019; p 88)

Share with participants something like, "The video is directly connected to teaching practices that are harmful to all students but focus on the impact labels, like giftedness, have upon students' own mindset."

Show this selected video from YouCubed, titled "Rethinking Giftedness" (slide 15).

Display slide 16. After the video, reflect with participants. Depending upon your group, discuss the questions on the slide or use a tech tool like Mentimeter for quiet self-reflection (see Tech Integration note below).

Possible reflection questions:

  • Do you have personal experiences or know someone who might have experienced this?

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

  • How does knowing about growth mindset theory change the way you treat yourself when you fail?

  • How might labels either directly or indirectly be harmful to a growth mindset?

Display slide 18. Have small groups revisit their CSI poster and summarize growth mindset into three bullet points in the bottom right quadrant.

Share and discuss the summaries. Add any key points that have not already been addressed in the summaries. Provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions.


Sort activity cards (30 cards) into different Mindset Values Statements categories (6 cards).

Transition to slide 19 by saying something like, "Now that we've looked at the research, let's look apply our understanding to practice." Explain that in groups of two or three, participants will sort Mindset Value Statements (adapted from

First, hand out a set of six cards with Growth Mindset Statements.

  • Teachers and students believe everyone can learn at high levels.

  • Communication and connection are valued.

  • The learning is visual.

  • The learning is open.

  • The environment is filled with wonder and curiosity.

  • The classroom is a risk-taking, mistake-valuing environment.

Then, hand out a stack of activity cards that support the above values. There are 30 activity cards. Have participants sort the activity cards into each of the six Growth Mindset Statements categories.

After participants are done sorting, debrief where and why they placed the cards. Have groups share out why they sorted the way they sorted. Validate that some were either difficult to place under one value and may have been sorted into different values depending upon personal experiences and perceptions. There are no "right or wrong" answers in this card sort.


Transition to slide 21 after discussing the card sorts (and connections to authenticity). Ask participants to choose one of the activity descriptions from the card sort and consider how they plan to use that activity to foster students' growth mindset. Have them record this activity and details of how they will facilitate that activity in their classroom.

For example, if the participant chooses the activity statement, "Students feel comfortable when they are stuck or wrong," a good pledge statement would read something like, "Next time one of my students gives an answer, I will not tell them they are right or wrong. I will ask them to share how they came to that answer and celebrate their thinking process and effort. If the answer is incorrect, I will coach them towards a correct answer by building upon the thinking and work they have already produced."

Research Rationale

Research suggests that a growth mindset supports student achievement and success beyond high school. When an individual has a growth mindset, they are not as timid to take on challenges and not set back by their failures on the way toward success. Motivation increases because achievement is not only tied to an immediate outcome, but also to the process of learning or growing.

Some research shows that students who were taught malleable intelligence had a clear increase in math grades (Yeager et al, 2016). Teacher mindset also has a big impact on student mindset (Boaler 2020; Dweck, 2007). Mindset has been linked to academic achievement (and by extension, college preparedness) in that students with a growth mindset are more willing to take on new challenges and not give up as soon as they experience failure.

Yeager and colleagues (2016) reported results in a very large study (N = 3676) of students transitioning to high school. A revised growth mindset intervention was given online during two class periods at the beginning of the fall semester. Semester GPA was better for students in the experimental group than in the control group, but only for those who entered high school as low achievers (based on 8th grade GPA). The growth mindset intervention also meant reduced rates of poor performance for low, but not high, achievers. However, although high achievers in the experimental group did not see an improvement in grades, they did exhibit more hypothetical challenge-seeking behavior compared to the control, suggesting that growth mindset interventions can encourage challenge-seeking in high achievers whereas it improves academic performance in low-achievers.


  • Boaler, J. & Constantinou, S. (2017, November 8). Rethinking giftedness. [Video]. YouCubed.

  • Boaler, J. (2020). Limitless mind: Learn, lead, and live without barriers. New York: HarperCollins.

  • Coyle, Daniel. (2009). The talent code: Greatness isn't born. It's grown. Here's how. New York: Bantam.

  • Dweck, C. S. (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

  • Khan, S. (2012). The one world schoolhouse: Education reimagined. New York, NY: Twelve.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Card Sort. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Color, Symbol, Image. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Mentimeter. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Snap, Clap, Pop. Strategies.

  • Merzenich, M. (2013). Soft-wired: How the new science of brain plasticity can change your life. San Francisco: Parnassus.

  • Silver, D. (2012). Fall down 7 times, get up 8: Teaching kids to succeed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

  • Yeager, D. S., Romero, C., Paunesku, D., Hulleman, S., Schneider, B., Hinojosa, C., Lee, H. Y., O'Brien, J., Flint, K., Roberts, A., Trott, J., Greene, D., Walton, G. M.,& Dweck, C. S. (2016). Using design thinking to improve psychological interventions: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 374-391.Doi:10.1037/edu0000098