WithMathICan

Amazon’s “With Math I Can” Initiative

Teach students to love math using With Math I Can

Math has a bad reputation that can be seen within popular culture and classrooms alike. With a quick search online, you can find countless movie references to math, and they aren’t pretty. Math is often met with anxiety, self-doubt, and down right hostility at times. I’m sure we have all heard a variation of the phrase “I’m not good at math” a time or two from our students.

Looking from a national and global scale, our poor math reputation continues. There is a substantial math achievement gap between students of various economic backgrounds in our country. As a whole, the United States is falling behind many other countries. In a time where STEM careers are growing and mathematical fluency is crucial, it is imperative that we make a change now more than ever.

As educators, how can we turn this around? How can we help our students love math? Amazon’s With Math I Can may be part of the answer.

Changing Mindset

The theory behind With Math I Can is shifting students from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. This concept was developed by Carol Dweck, who identified that there is a link between mindset and achievement. There is power in what a student believes they can achieve and there is a direct link to actual performance. The key is focusing on the process of learning instead of the outcome.

Jo Boaler at the Stanford Graduate School of Education determined that this fixed mindset was present in regards to math more than other subject areas. Here are the qualities of a fixed mindset outlined by Amazon’s With Math I Can. Do you recognize any of these in your classroom?

WithMathICan

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Fixed Mindset

– Avoids challenges
– Gives up easily
– Sees effort as fruitless
– Ignores useful criticism
– Threatened by others

Now, take a look at the qualities of a growth mindset.

Growth Mindset

– Embraces Challenges
– Persists in obstacles
– Sees effort as necessary
– Learns from criticism
– Inspired by others’ success

The challenge for teachers is moving students from a fixed mindset to one of growth. This is where With Math I Can can help. By utilizing their easy techniques, student can develop a more positive outlook on their learning and mathematics.

Take the Pledge!

The first step in using With Math I Can is having your class take the mindset pledge. At the heart of this pledge, you are challenging you students to stop saying ‘I’m not good at math.” Ask students to pledge to achieve a growth mindset by committing to three things: celebrate mistakes as opportunities to grow, be confident and share thinking, and persevere through difficult practice.

As you can see on their Twitter feed, many teachers have posted this pledge in the classroom for all students to sign. Along with placing the pledge in a prominent location, refer to it daily. This should especially be the case when tackling a difficult concept or problem. Model its goals and point out when students are sticking to it.

Educator Resources

With Math I Can also provides a variety of educational resources. For teachers, there are classroom lesson plans, along with links and videos from a variety of education organizations to help you understand and implement strategies for a growth mindset. For schools and districts, there are professional development videos to use for staff training. Lastly, parent resources include videos, books, and even a song to continue fostering the growth mindset at home.

Check it out!

Head over to With Math I Can and see how you can bring this mindset into your classroom. Start by showing the introduction video to your class and present the pledge. Just this one small step will bring the growth mindset into your classroom and you will be empowering your students with the potential of lifelong confidence for success. As one student stated, “with math I can be anything.” Let’s show our students how true this really is!

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Alexandra D. Owens

Alexandra Owens is a STEM Education consultant based in Charleston, SC. She taught middle school science for many years and is now completing her doctorate in STEM Education at Texas Tech University.
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