It’s All About Your Mindset

My mind often wanders and makes me believe that I am not competent, that I am not doing enough, or am simply achieving what others are achieving. This negative mindset takes over and eats away at my confidence like a disease. On Tuesday, we had our bi-weekly district twitter chat in which the topic discussed growth mindset. Thanks to our #d100chat I received a lot of feedback from other teachers who are faced with a similar problem. I realized that I am not alone, and that instead of feeling this way, I need to change my mindset and repeat to myself that “I Am Enough” and that I cannot compare my journey to that of anyone else. It also helped that my winter break anxiety subsided the second I saw my kiddos faces. It’s the most amazing feeling coming to “work” everyday and loving exactly what you do. I feel that I sound like a broken record, but I am so blessed to be working in a profession that I fall more and more in love with every day.

Although some teachers may feel the need to jump right back in to where we left off in the curriculum, I took the time to ease my students back in to the swing of things. It’s a hard transition to go from two weeks of no school, sleeping in, and playing video games to dividing decimals, writing an informational paper about the Revolutionary War and understanding text structures of informational text. Instead of bombarding them with all of this content we took this week to review, not just content, but boundaries, and the environment of our classroom.

In math, I flipped the classroom to give the students complete control. If you’ve been following along with my blog, my last post touched on some New Year Resolutions I had for myself, which included “giving students a standard and letting them come up with the assessment.” We took it one step further in the classroom and let students create a full lesson based on their standard and an assessment to administer to the entire class. I split my students into groups of three and assigned them a standard that could have been all the way from the beginning of the year. The immediately fell in love and bought right in. The best part was referring to all of them as Ms. Rodriguez or Mr. Ramirez. They loved it! On Friday, we shared all of our presentations by having each group take the main stage and teach their classmates about their standard and then assess them. We also made them answer any questions that their classmates had during the assessment. It was completely hands off for me, within reason of course. There were a few questions that my kiddos needed assistance on, which was TOTALLY fine because I want them to make mistakes. That’s when they really learn.


Students teaching and assessing one another in math. You can see the eagerness of the classroom in the middle picture. goFormative and Schoology were used for assessments created by students. 


After our presentations were complete, the students were given the opportunity to take a challenge and create a song about their I Can statement. They’re still working on them, but some of the songs that I’ve overheard already were “Hello from the Decimal side”, “Now Watch Me Solve, Solve this Division Problem” and “Learn from Each Other, Assess One Another.” We also had a student complete a song to Ed Sheeran’s song Photograph about how hard math problem solving can be. Such a fun way for them to review! You can listen to that groups song here. This was completed at home all on their own! So impressive! I love watching them get excited about projects.


I can now check this resolution off my list and continue to utilize it as a way to review and push my students to learn from one another. Since I was working on my resolutions, I wanted my kiddos to have that same opportunity. I was able to collaborate with a family friend and colleague from District 58. Lauren is truly an inspiration in her room and I am inspired by her everyday. She’s such an incredible teacher, always making her lessons engaging and meaningful for her kiddos. She reached out to me and shared her “Appy New Year” project that she was working on. Essentially, a writing activity where the students design and create an app about their resolution for the New Year. With her help I was able to throw a QR Code on there to incorporate a fluency component and voila, our iPhone Apps are up and we’re sharing our resolutions. I’m so thankful Lauren shared this with me. My kiddos all loved it and were engaged in meaningful writing activities for the whole week.


This week, we have a lot of fun, new  and exciting things coming up. First and foremost The Brainstormers were invited to participate in our very first #gmttc, which stands for Global Math Twitter Chat Challenge. Victoria Ruane, of New Jersey, fellow Fifth Grade Teacher and Ambassador for TenMarks reached out to me via Twitter to ask us to join in. Essentially our classes will challenge one another with a math task from Illustrative Mathematics, a phenomenal common core aligned site full of math tasks for your kiddos. Our students will work on the problem through the week in math centers and then at the end of the week, we will share our results live on Padlet. I’m really excited about the opportunity to collaborate with a classroom across the country and challenge my kids to a little friendly competition. The love when they’re challenged.

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I’ll also be introducing my kiddos to an “I Can” checklist aligned with our new topic 5.NBT.B.7. Through distributing this, I am hoping to set the expectation before we even start learning so that the students know what they will be responsible for throughout this unit. I modeled it off of a single point rubric which allows for tons of student reflection. I’m hoping that they will find this useful. I’ll make sure to share about the successes and constructive tips for use as we go through the unit. Please share if you yourself have any critiques or changes you think I should make for this rubric. If you’re interested in a word document copy let me know and I’d be more than happy to share it with you.


The Brainstormers will also be connecting with our Mystery Skype friends this week. It’s our turn now to use geography and critical thinking skills/questioning to figure out where our friends are located. We already know a lot about their school, but don’t know where they are physically located. We’re super excited to chat with them again and hopefully continue our relationship throughout the year with virtual pen pals.



This week also marks the start of the third year of Chance to Dance, my non-profit organization. Chance to Dance provides low-cost dance classes to children of low income families. We have serviced District 100 for the past 3 years and hopefully will continue to expand our reach. I am anxious to see how many students enroll this year to see if we are going to reach our projected growth of 70 families. Check our our website here and if you’re in the area,  share with any friends or family members you think might be interested in participating.



In a few weeks the #d100bloggerPD will be back with their next book study on Ron Clark’s “Move Your Bus”. You do not want to miss this one. Make sure to follow along on Twitter and on our blogs. This book is not only a quick and easy read, it’s also incredibly eye opening and will motivate you to reach your fullest potential as a “runner.” JOIN US!

For one last final note, I want to share about a book that I’ve been reading. “Mathematical Mindsets” by Jo Boaler is one of the most eye opening books I’ve ever read, regardless of subject. Boaler’s entire book articulates perfectly the development of “growth mindset” and how crucial it is in mathematics, since we live in a world that believes only certain kids will be successful in math. I’m only three chapters in, but already my mind has changed. As one of those kids who was afraid of making mistakes, and determined my intelligence based on the amount of math problems I got correct in class, made me accept the fact that I just wasn’t smart and that I was “not a math person.” Even in my adult years I would classify my intelligence as my ability to do math. This shouldn’t be the case! Boaler says that math is the subject that is most in need of a mindset makeover, a term I absolutely love! If you haven’t picked up this book yet, make sure you do. It’s life changing and I’m only 100 pages in. It will change your mindset and your idea of successes/failures.

I’ll leave you with this idea from Peter Sims, a write for the New York Times, who says that successful people do 7 things. Try to incorporate these affirmations into your day to day life and the day to day life of your students. Watch the change happen before your eyes!

“Feel comfortable being wrong”

“Try seemingly wild ideas”

“Be open to different experiences”

“Play with ideas without judging them”

“Be willing to go against traditional ideas”

“Keep going through difficulties”






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