Reflection for Week 2: Essential Question: What is the link between “tinkering,” “hard play,” and the “growth mindset”?

EDET677 Mechanical Applications of Technologies

Reflection for Week 2

by Aleta May

I think my favorite reading this week was a chart created by Carol Dweck called “How to Encourage Students” where there is a compare and contract list of statements of what to say and what not to say to students to encourage a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset. I placed this chart into my post and I intend to put this list on my wall at school. The comments we make are so very important when it comes to the influence we have on our students! Carol also emphasized the phrase “not yet” as a way to promote the Growth Mindset to our students; for example, you received a failing grade, but you can still bring this to a passing grade—just “not yet.”

Another important emphasis I picked up on was from Popova, 2014) when I read that we need to remember not to think of our qualities, not even our personalities, are carved in stone. Although some people may have certain traits or inclinations like persistence, skills in the arts, academics, construction, and more, this does not mean that individuals who want to grow cannot grow in areas they are motivated to learn and get good at. One example I can think of is how my granddaughter is very good with animals; relating to them, caring for them, training them, reading their needs. However, we have another soon to be granddaughter who has been built up so much for similar traits and interests that she gets a lot more attention for this. Sometimes it is true that a person’s interest change over time, but they have a label placed on them that says, “You are this or that.” We need to allow our students, our children, our grandchildren the freedom to try new things and encourage them not to give up on something they are motivated to get better at just because someone they know is “presently better” at that thing than they are. Teaching students that failure is an opportunity to grow, time is our friend, and that we get what we pay attention to over time requires a growth mindset. By the way, we don’t all need to become superstars at our area(s) of interest!

It is also so important to remember not to overload students. We can do this by giving them too much information up front, but not enough chances to practice and apply along the way. We can also create a stressful environment by expecting fruitless reiterations of the same concept when it simply does not make sense until the student(s) have had a chance to see that concept applied and /or try it themselves while revisiting that concept either along the way or after the project / application. Peer-to-peer learning and discussion helps here.

Below are the responses I made to blog posts on WordPress this week. Reading their posts and responding helped me to move these concepts of tinkering, hard play and the growth mindset from my working memory to my long-term memory. I know this as I was thinking of these while riding in the car today, when previous to this week, these words / concepts did not have the same meaning to me at all. Catherine inspired me to build a visual conception of Constructionism Learning Theory in an online mind map:,-6.7,2

Hi Amy,

You ask an excellent question which prompted me to think about this: “How, then, do we help students be open to challenges and accept that they have not failed but simply have yet to master a concept?”

Sometimes when I work with students who have had a history of giving up in class because the curriculum was so difficult for them, they began to believe they could not read. Much time is spent on my part making sure they realize they can learn to read. By the time they are a certain age, students have also developed habits of not trying, so they do require extra breaks just to build up working stamina. I also vary the reading as much as possible and break it up with video clips to show more about what they are reading and pull them in.

When you spoke about adding an art project in, this reminds me that this is worth the time to help students visualize what they are learning—their way of writing a summary. Some drawings they produce are quite elaborate.

I remember sitting in the sand with my daughters just to think about what to create. At other times, it was using wood blocks or big Legos. Sometimes I would just get them started, then slowly back away and watch them build and talk about building together. They would go outside and use their imaginations with just about any objects. As they grew older, we handed a video camera to them and they began to produce their own choreography. They reviewed, edited, and re-filmed segments. They knew how to use that video camera better than I did just from all the tinkering they did while creating movie productions. At one point, my husband and I encouraged new teachers to use the school video camera. The high school students came up with a weekly school news report.

When we allow students guided and facilitated freedom to learn, they are ready to laugh at mistakes and try again: the Growth Mindset.

Hi Genevieve,

It is so true that students need to “try out” their learning in order to keep them engaged and motivated. I have never been able to teach without clarifying the district’s curriculum by supplementing it with ways to try out or relate to what they are learning–you made a good point about the curriculum being only part of the way we teach our students.


Side Note: I thought I posted this yesterday, but it didn’t go through for some reason.

MAY 29, 2016 AT 2:37 AM

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Hi Catherine,

It is easy to visualize your Venn diagram from the very descriptive details you gave in your post! I understand the connections between tinkering, hard play, and the growth mindset better after reading your post.

I created a MindNode from what you wrote, though I’m not sure how to make it overlapping the way you described.,-6.7,2

Image of Robotic Hand :


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