Particularly at the beginning of the school year, it's essential to merge learning-to-learn mindset and behavior lessons with content focus. This integration helps students to gain confidence and skill as a learner as well as acquire the math content knowledge, concept, and skill.
The best way to do this is to have a ready list of learning-to-learn behavior/mindset lessons and match those lessons to the daily focus. For example I'll match a focus on collaboration with an initial number review and assessment during the Math Team T-Shirt lesson and the Global Cardboard Challenge project.
I'll weave more of the lessons from my Learning Mindsets and Behaviors website into other math lessons as well. Last year I did this regularly, and every time I focused on a learning to learn mindset and/or behavior lesson, I saw students sit up straighter with bright eyes as these lessons served to empower them and let them know that I knew everyone in the class was capable of success.
In a sense, the learning mindset and behavior lessons are catchy introductions that motivate the best of what students can do. In many cases, these lessons dispel long held myths about learning that students have learned at home and in the broader culture, myths such as some people can learn and others cannot.
To build this empowerment out event more, after I've exhausted my learning behavior and mindset lessons, I'll weave in current events, notable experts from all cultures, races, lifestyles, and religions, and new content and discovery. These kinds of introductions also serve to empower and engage students while making math meaningful. Valuable learning experiences always include a strong rationale as well as ways to make the learning brain-friendly and successful.
Please feel free to use the lessons I've created on my Learning Mindsets and Behaviors website--blended lessons that invite students into the learning. Also if you have other great empowering learning experience additions, please let me know. Motivating, engaging, and welcoming students to learning is as important as the content, concept, and skill learning--it takes both areas of focus to reach successful teaching and long term investment and learning success.
This little film is one example of an introduction I share at the start of the year--it's amazing to see how many students view this as new knowledge when they watch it and we discuss what it means.