Growth Mindset & GRIT & SMP1

29 Nov

If we want our students to be mathematically proficient, and if we want mathematically proficient students to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them, how will we help them when they don’t? or won’t? or feel like they can’t?

Jill Gough and I have been working on leveled learning progressions for the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Here is the visual for SMP1.



I wonder how much making sense of problems and persevering in solving them has to do with the work of Carol Dweck on Mindset and Angela Duckworth on GRIT. I had the opportunity to hear Angela Duckworth speak at the AP Annual Conference a few years ago.


One of the ways that our students can earn Problem Solving Points in our course is to determine how much GRIT they have:

Angela Duckworth says that the key to success is GRIT. Watch her TED Talk. Then determine how much GRIT you have. Then email your instructor a reflection with a response to at least one of the following prompts:

I like …, I wish …, I wonder …, I will …

We have enjoyed reading our student reflections on GRIT.

I like this idea and I do believe in it. I believe a lot of people don’t really understand how extremely important it is though. I think a lot of people would watch the video and think “oh cool grit whatever” and not realize that that’s more than likely is what will get you hired coming out of college and that it will probably take you farther in life than anything else. I wish more people understood that. I wonder if GRIT is something you can turn off and turn on, like we know it can change but can you just decide you want to be gritty for this one thing and be gritty.



I like that Angela Duckworth and Princeton (and you too, Mrs. Wilson) are speaking out and beginning to normalize this idea that intelligence is a fixed point, that we can’t change, is all wrong. Yes, it’s true we are not all rocket scientists- but should the people with less of an initial gift for learning have any less of an education? I’ve felt that in our school and our society there are a lot of limitations, including how high you rank in standardized tests, that influence how much you are pushed and expected to succeed. However, I don’t think that people who rank lower in testing scores should be shoved aside and given just the bare minimum. If the fear of failure was not so prevalent in the school system, maybe kids would believe that they can succeed after the initial failed attempt; that not just the ‘smart’ kids will be the ones to succeed.

I wish that someone had told me about this sooner, and that we were setting the goal at something more like GRIT, not just if you get the answer faster or easier than someone else. I’ve been in the smart track my whole life so I might sound out of line, but even I know that I won’t be a mathematician or the one to find a cure for cancer. No matter how hard I try, there is reality to remember, and though I’ve had encouraging parents and many very helpful teachers, I’ve still had the idea of my failure put into place. Can I wipe away that misconception that I was hardwired with a certain capacity for greatness? Even if I do, I feel that I just wasn’t born with a lot of determination. I’m sad to say my GRIT score was only 2.7 or so.

I wonder if this idea will die away or flourish in the new minds of the next generation. Before I came to your class, I’d always had teachers who would seem to forgive our wrong answers, but never one who said that, if used in the right way, it could actually help improve our overall smartness. I wonder how I could improve my measly 2.7 GRIT to something stronger. I wonder if I’ll ever find a motive to push me through, something to fuel my resilience.


I will work on not giving up; what better time to muddle through than high school? Opportunity to dump homework and just watch netflix abounds, but I will make a conscious effort to improve my GRIT and become a more responsible, diligent person.



I will definitely try harder in school and in other commitments after watching this video. The grit survey site gave me a grit score of 3.88. It also stated that I have more grit than 70% of the US population. Wow! I am shocked that 70% of the US has a grit score lower than 3.88. I am not fully satisfied with that score, so I will try harder to increase my grit score.



I took the grit survey and my result was 3.25. That makes me grittier than more than 40% of the United States of America. I will work hard to persevere on any project I begin. When I do projects, it always feels like I work so hard when I start, but as I get closer to being finished with it, I don’t work as hard as I could. I need to work on having patience to see something completed. I will also work to not get so discouraged when I get something wrong or when I don’t understand something. Once I start to do some of these things, I will become more successful and grittier.



I like how Angela Duckworth developed a grit questionnaire and how she admitted that she didn’t know how to instill grit in kids. I also liked how she ended with “In other words, we need to be gritty about getting our kids grittier.”

I also took the grit survey, and got a 3.5 out of 5, which is apparently better than 50% of the US population. I don’t if I should be happy that my 70% is better than nearly 160 million people or sad for the same reason.



Does it help for us to make our students and children aware of growth vs. fixed mindsets? Does it help for us to purposefully use growth mindset and GRIT language with our students? And whether or not research shows that it helps, can’t it not hurt if we want all of the learners in our care to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them?


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2 responses to “Growth Mindset & GRIT & SMP1

  1. Jennifer Call

    October 21, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I am a math teacher at a middle school. For the first EVER, our school is actually focusing on Numeracy (rather than rehashing literacy). I found the posters that you and Jill Gough created through a Google search. We were wondering if there was a place where we could download official copies of of the posters for the practice standards. Our STEM committee likes your version best from all that we’ve looked at because of the levels of progresion. They match the direction our school is going with transitioning to standards-based grading.

    • jwilson828

      October 21, 2015 at 9:59 am

      We are glad that they are useful to you! Jill and her team use many of the practices throughout all subject areas at her school.
      We are actually in the process of publishing a page that has a link to all of the posters. It should be up soon, and we will cross-post to both of our blogs.


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