This is Too Easy
March 4, 2017
“Introducing a spelling test to a student by saying, ‘Let’s see how many words you know,’ is different from saying, ‘Let’s see how many words you know already.’ It is only one word, but the already suggests that any words the child knows are ahead of expectation and, most important, that there is nothing permanent about what is known and not known.”
— Peter Johnston
We might have oversold the growth mindset message.
My students are now convinced that everything should be hard and by hard, they mean difficult. They now emphatically state that if the work we do isn’t hard for them, then it isn’t worth doing. They want harder books, harder problems, harder words to spell. Their favorite thing to say to me is This is soooo easy. This is too easy. Make it harder.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for challenges. Setting a goal, seeing it through, believe that you can achieve. The whole enchilada. But practice… shots on goal… doesn’t have to be difficult. I can read for pleasure. I can spell to get more accurate. I don’t have to read an 800 page book to be a good reader… and neither do they.
So I continue to promote a growth mindset along with the pleasure of doing something that isn’t all that hard. The idea of baby steps not gigantic leaps. The idea that all of it doesn’t have to be a challenge.
In her book, Readers Front and Center, Dorothy Barnhouse takes us on a constructivist journey emphasizing learning over knowledge, process over product. So when my students say, This is easy, I ask how do you know that? How did you learn to spell because, to read longer words, to enjoy a book. By doing this we help our students notice process and effort over product and ability. They solidify their thinking through the process of explaining their learning. This builds conversation skills, synthesizing skills, and a growth mindset. The real growth mindset, the one that says I’m always growing.
I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!
Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!