Fifth grade students in RPS 205 have ‘growth mindset’

Fifth grade students at Spring Creek School perform an end-of-year play about Mathletes last month.

Fifth grade students at Spring Creek School perform an end-of-year play about Mathletes last month.

Students in Aaron Park’s fifth grade classroom at Spring Creek School were among the top in the Rockford Public Schools for growth in math.

Five of the students took a break during the last week of the 2016-17 school year to talk about why they improved in math and what Park did to help them.

All of the students said they knew their scores on the Measures of
Academic Progress or MAP assessments given three times a year. They not only knew their scores, they knew where they needed to grow.

They were in a “growth mindset”—a concept popularized by researcher Carol Dweck and used by educators in RPS 205. In a growth mindset, people believe intelligence and talent are not fixed traits and can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Park’s students didn’t know the academic theory. They just knew it worked.

By the end of the year, Aaron Heaslip was proud of his learning. He said having a target for academic growth was “kind of fun and kind of scary.” He said problem-solving was a big part of how his class learned. Their teacher used a technique called the Randomizer, which randomly picked groups of two or three students to work together on math problems.

Aron Reveles said the growth targets “showed me I was getting smarter. A lot smarter. That gave me proof I was actually learning.”

Growth targets provided Renee Soliba and Ye-young Kim with powerful self-motivation. Renee said if her numbers were low on one test, she told herself she had to do better on the next one. Ye-young tried to see how high her scores go could go.

Blake Jochum said his learning started clicking when he realized multiplication and fractions “are like cousins.”

Park, their teacher, said his students’ growth had little to do with him and mostly because of their own hard work. It helped them to break down learning in small steps. But the most winning approach, he said, was goal-setting–discussing with students what strategies it would take to get them to their goals. Ninety-three percent of students in his class met or exceeded their growth targets. That was among the top percentages in the district for growth.

When students can be part of the process, Park said, they take more ownership for their learning.

 “The students worked really hard and deserve all the credit,” he said.

Mary Kaull is strategic communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.



1 Comment

  1. Colleen Holmbeck

    oBoy would that have ever helped me about 70 years ago getting through arithmetic at P.A. Peterson school!

    Colleen Holmbeck

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