Lesson Plan

'I Tried Hard,' Growth Mindset

According to research about growth mindsets, certain kinds of praise can stifle growth, while others promote learning and achievement. In this lesson, students will be able to identify and use praise words that support growth mindset.
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Learning Objectives

Students will be able to identify growth mindset praise and create a poster that displays examples of this praise.


(20 minutes)
Poster: Best Ways to Praise
  • Join the class in a circle, either seated on the rug or in chairs.
  • Write the following quote on the board: "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." -Theodore Roosevelt
  • Ask students to quietly come up, two to three at a time, and write words or phrases that connect to this quote.
  • After everyone has contributed, ask one student volunteer to come up to the board and share what they notice about the words and phrases from their peers.
  • Ask the class, "What does it mean to try? What does it mean to be smart?"
  • Show the video "Carol Dweck - A Study on Praise and Mindsets," and ask the class to write down three takeaways as they watch.
  • After the video, ask the class, "What happened to the group praised for intelligence (the group that was told, 'You are smart')?" Build upon student answers, and mention that this group's scores dropped by 20%.
  • Ask, "What happened to the group that was praised for their effort (the group that was told, 'You tried hard')?" Mention that this group's scores increased by 30%.
  • Ask the class, "What do you think this video tells us about the best ways to talk about achievement?" Share the importance of offering praise to yourself and others.
  • Ask the class, "What are some forms of praise that we can use with ourselves and with others, instead of saying 'You are smart'?" Write their responses on the board, and offer some suggestions:
    1. You tried hard.
    2. What a creative way to solve that problem.
    3. You have improved on ________.