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Friday, August 29, 2014

Marshmallow Challenge 2014-2015

Today was the the day: Marshmallow Challenge Day!  (If you don't know what the Marshmallow Challenge is you can check out my previous post or go straight to the horse's mouth.)  It was really fun for the students and me.  There were several successful structures and several structures buckled under the weight of the marshmallow.  The students worked well together and no group gave up before time ran out, and got no input from me.

One senior group and one freshman group produced free standing structures that were 25 inches tall.  Two senior groups produced 24 inch structures, but one was not free standing.   I have included examples that were free standing at the end of the 18 minutes as well as one that definitely drooped and one that snapped.

When they were done we watched two videos.  I know, "Videos ... she must be a slacker teacher."  Maybe I am sometimes, but not today.  First, we watched the video on the Marshmallow Challenge website.  It is a TED talk that explains the purpose, typical results and what you can learn from the challenge.

Then we watched part of another video.  One of my frustrations as a teacher is when students say "I'm not good at ..." when they have this mindset they shut themselves off to new possibilities.  I especially see this in AP Biology.  These students are used to excelling, and most of them think they know how to study.  And they are often receiving lower test grades than they ever have before, and most just quit instead of rising to the challenge.

So after watching this video, I challenge my students.  I told them, I would put up a poster soon of things you say to yourself if you have a fixed mindset and things your say to yourself if you have a growth mindset.  And I challenged them to change their brain.  I challenged them to train themselves to have a growth mindset.  I challegend them to not let failure stop them from trying to succeed whether it was with their grades, athletics, arts, or any other area where they felt they were not going to succeed.  Hopefully, at the end of the year I am going to remember to ask my students to write me a letter about if they tried this and if they felt that it made a difference for them.  iif you want to learn more about mindsets, click here.

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