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Hannibal Ninth Graders Set SMART Goals

A collaboration between Literacy Consultant Auddie Mastroleo and Hannibal ELA Teacher Michael Cook brought about an initiative for students to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time sensitive) goals in relation to both their personal aspirations and independent reading.

Hannibal ninth graders work together to define what a growth mindset is as a part of a mini-research unit that promotes learning and reading.
Hannibal ninth graders work together to define what a growth mindset is as a part of a mini-research unit that promotes learning and reading.

“Together we developed a mini-research unit in which students studied how reading impacts the brain,” said Mastroleo. “Students read several texts on the topic, developed inquiry questions, worked in research groups to answer those questions and showcased a PowerPoint slideshow to demonstrate what they had learned.”

Building upon the students’ research, Cook and Mastroleo co-taught a class about the difference between a fixed mindset verses a growth mindset.

Split into groups, the students took a handful of cards with common phrases such as “I’m not good at this” and “Mistakes can help me learn.”

They determined whether the sayings indicated a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

Cook and Mastroleo then presented a study by Research Psychologist Carol Dweck from Stanford University, which suggests that teaching students how the brain works (growth mindset verses fixed mindset) causes them to perform better in school.

Cook explained that having a fixed mindset can stunt learning and progress, while a growth mindset can encourage perseverance and the pursuit of success.

Students determine what phrases indicate a growth mindset (the idea that knowledge is progressive and always improving) and which phrases demonstrate a fixed mindset (the idea that failure is a permanent condition).
Students determine what phrases indicate a growth mindset (the idea that knowledge is progressive and always improving) and which phrases demonstrate a fixed mindset (the idea that failure is a permanent condition).

Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth suggests that this is because the students no longer, “believe that failure is a permanent condition.”

Duckworth studies a concept called grit, which Cook explained as, “having the desire and will to keep improving; the personal inner belief that mistakes can help an individual learn.”

Mastroleo wanted the students to apply this knowledge, and she provided a strategy to help instill and maintain grit: setting goals for personal and academic growth.

“This idea of setting goals can be a really powerful tool in helping you accomplish your dreams,” said Mastroleo.

Using a SMART template, the students individually wrote down specific and attainable goals for personal growth and advancement in independent reading. They set a deadline and checkpoints to maintain accountability.

Teachers hope this initiative will assist in launching independent reading, promoting research learning and inquiry skills and encouraging hope and vision for ninth grade students.