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Section 1.2 Thinking Together and Mathematical Mindset

Subsection 1.2.1 Video: Mindset

The message of “Mindset” is that everyone can learn mathematics. The video includes important brain and mindset evidence to support this message. Watch the video. Write a brief reflection, then discuss the video in small groups. This video is from Week 1 of Inspirational Math, Day 1 8 .

Figure “Mindset” Video.

Student Page 1.2.2 Good Group Work (Also from Week 1 of Inspirational Math)

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

―African Proverb

Before you work on math together, complete this activity. Use the cooperative learning strategy, Roundtable, to generate ideas.


Each team uses a single sheet of paper.

The team member closest to the classroom door writes down an idea, states it out loud, and passes the paper to the left.

Other group members may ask for clarification but may not critique the idea.

Continue until time is called.

This activity will help improve group interactions. Teachers who have tried this activity have been pleased by students' thoughtful responses and found students' thoughts and words helpful in creating a positive and supportive environment. Use Roundtable to reflect on things you like people to say or do in a group when you are working together. After you have thought of and written down a few of the ideas, use Roundtable to reflect on things you don't like people to say or do when you are working in a group.

Some important ideas students generally share include: Let everyone share their ideas, share different ways to solve a problem, listen when others speak, don't give away the answer, don't rush through the work, and don't ignore other people's ideas.

When the class has finished brainstorming, share ideas on a “What we like” poster with each group contributing at least one idea. Do the same for a “What we don't like” poster. Post the final posters in class as the agreed upon classroom norms; refer back to them throughout the course, as needed. Don't include negative comments such as, “I don't like waiting for slow people,” instead discuss the issue.

Student Page 1.2.3 Mindset Survey

Document your current feelings about how you approach mathematics through the following.


Look at Figure Follow the directions to get a baseline of your attitudes concerning your ability to learn mathematics.

Ten boxes containing mathematical mindsets. Instructions are to star mindsets that apply to you.
Figure A depiction of mathematical mindsets.



The boxes in the first column of Figure describe a person with a Fixed Mindset. The boxes in the second column describe a person with a Growth Mindset. At the present time, do you tend to have a Fixed Mindset or a Growth Mindset in terms of learning mathematics? Explain why you think so.


Having a Growth Mindset helps you overcome obstacles as you work to learn mathematics. Having a Fixed Mindset, on the other hand, can prevent you from learning mathematics. It is important to work to overcome a Fixed Mindset so that it doesn't hold you back from learning. If you tend to have a Fixed Mindset, what ideas do you have to help you transition from a Fixed to a Growth Mindset?



Keep your responses to Student Page Exercise and Student Page Exercise Revisit them often. Each time, ask yourself:

  • Have any of my beliefs changed?

  • Do I believe in myself and my ability to learn mathematics?

If the answer to either question is no, ask yourself:

  • What messages am I giving myself that keep me from believing in myself?

  • What messages would be more helpful?

Activity 1. Making Introductions.

In this activity, in turn, you will introduce yourself using alliteration. You will also introduce everyone who was introduced before you. Suppose the first 3 persons are Char, Ben, and Melanie. Char starts by saying: “I'm Char. I like shopping in Chicago.” Ben says, “I'm Ben. I like baseball. This is Char; she likes shopping in Chicago.” Melanie might say, “I'm Melanie, I like making meals. This is Ben; he likes baseball. This is Char; she likes shopping in Chicago.” Introductions continue around the room with successive students introducing everyone who came before them. If there are 30 students or more in class, the first half of the students introduce themselves using this scheme, then the second half does the same starting over with the first person of the second group.

Once introductions have been made, complete the following:


Create a table to show the number of introductions made by each of the first 5 people and also the total number of introductions made so far.


Look for and share any patterns you see in the table.


Determine the total number of introductions that have been made after 10 people, 15 people, and 20 people.


Is there a way to find the number of introductions made by the whole class? How? What is the number? How do you know?

Homework 1.2.4 Homework


Answer the bulleted questions in Making Introductions. Be ready to share your responses with the class.


Take the Mindset Survey online 9 . Read the recommendations provided once you take the survey. Print out a copy of these recommendations or store the results on your computer. Consult the results any time you feel frustrated with your work in this course.