On Your Bookmarks, Get Set, Grow!

I love to read. I love books. Picture books, non fiction books, education books you name it. You’d probably be surprised to know that I haven’t always loved to read. I remember my first day of school in Grade 2. I was wearing my new purple suede lace-up shoes (you know the kind where the laces are so thin and slick that they untie easily and slip through the grommets). I wore my denim blouse that had pink and purple flowers embroidered along the collar. It had brown and beige buttons along the front. This shirt went well with my matching blue denim jeans that had the same embroidery on the pockets. My long hair was tied in a low ponytail, and my mom had just trimmed my bangs for back to school. As usual, they were somewhat crooked.

I remember it clearly. I was sitting at a round table (not too bad for that era) with a few people I knew from grade 1. My teacher had us reading aloud one by one. Already an assessment to see what we remembered from the previous year, I suppose. I was dreading my turn. I hear my name called, instantly feel the intense heat of that spotlight and start to sweat. My hands were so clammy I bet you could see my thumbprints from where I was holding the page (you know the paper that was thin but somewhat textured).

The sentence: “La maison est jaune.” (The house is yellow). Words I knew but didn’t remember. I speak softly, trying to decode maison. Mmmaaaaa-iiiiiii-zzzz-âne. Wrong. My teacher said, “Voyons Nycol, c’est un mot que tu connais! (Nycol, you should know this!!)”. Making me feel stupid. I did feel silly when I remembered that “on” made the sound “on like ourson”. I hated reading a loud in front of other people. That followed me well into high school.

School didn’t always come easy to me before I learned how to play the game. After I figured that out, I was a straight A student. Honour roll each term, bursaries through university.

As I was studying to become a teacher, my love for books grew. When I first stepped into our new school’s library learning commons, I was in awe. All new books waiting to be cracked open. Hoping to share their story. Aching to be chosen to be brought home, held and hugged.

There are so many books in our learning commons! All sorts of books. I like to check out what my students are taking out to see what interests them. One student chose a book of mazes. Not an information book, but literally a book with mazes, so many cool ones, waiting to be solved! It’s called Labyrinthes by Théo Guignard.

What I loved about this book was how it drew students in. One student was looking at one maze then all of a sudden they were a group of four on the floor. What I loved about this book is that students tried and tried again to get through these mazes. When they hit a wall or an obstacle, they moved backwards and retraced their steps to find another way, a solution to reach the final destination.

My students loved this book so much that when I saw it in the library I took it out for myself! I brought it home to see how my kids would tackle it. They are younger than the students I teach and I was wondering if they would give up before finding the way out. Not a chance. My four and six year old tackled these mazes until I had to say lights out and promise them they could continue tomorrow!

Seeing my students and own kids persevering through this book instantly made me think of what I wanted for them as learners. I want them to persevere through challenging activities. When they hit a wall or get stuck, I want them to try and find a solution and not wait to be rescued by a “helicopter”. I want them to know that failing is an important step in their learning process and is a way they’ll develop resiliency.

I want them to tackle their writing assignments with the same enthusiasm as they do when they get stuck in the maze. I want them to use the different strategies they’ve learned when they decode unfamiliar words. I want them to think critically and try again and again.

Seeing them this interested and engaged reminded me of a great little book I recently finished, Code Breaker by Brian Aspinall.

(Hello World :))

This easy read highlights practical examples on how to integrate computational thinking and coding across the curriculum in every classroom. Skills that are today effective in developing a growth mindset while taking risks, problem solving, tinkering and design, to demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways. Brian and countless other educators shine a light on how their students develop a mindset focused on finding solutions with the given feedback. Using coding and computational thinking has made their students engaged and empowered. Students are meeting continua outcomes without even knowing it!

In recent weeks, Annick Rauch, my colleague and best friend asked me if I wanted to collaborate on a growth mindset project. I didn’t even have to think twice before accepting. She is always full of worthwhile ideas. The beauty of it is that this year, we are both part of a Technology PLN with two other teachers in our district. This morning, we met to plan our growth mindset project while incorporating many other books from our school Learning Commons and use technology as a tool to share our learning and connect with other classrooms. Annick and I had great ideas and we can’t wait to tackle this project in April to Launch in May. Stay tuned for #MindsetMondaysLRSD. We can’t wait to stretch our students’ brains and have them take note of their personal growth.

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