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Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching

Jo Boaler, Carol Dweck (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-118-41553-5
320 pages
October 2015, Jossey-Bass
Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students


Banish math anxiety and give students of all ages a clear roadmap to success

Mathematical Mindsets provides practical strategies and activities to help teachers and parents show all children, even those who are convinced that they are bad at math, that they can enjoy and succeed in math. Jo Boaler—Stanford researcher, professor of math education, and expert on math learning—has studied why students don't like math and often fail in math classes. She's followed thousands of students through middle and high schools to study how they learn and to find the most effective ways to unleash the math potential in all students.

There is a clear gap between what research has shown to work in teaching math and what happens in schools and at home. This book bridges that gap by turning research findings into practical activities and advice. Boaler translates Carol Dweck's concept of 'mindset' into math teaching and parenting strategies, showing how students can go from self-doubt to strong self-confidence, which is so important to math learning. Boaler reveals the steps that must be taken by schools and parents to improve math education for all. Mathematical Mindsets:

  • Explains how the brain processes mathematics learning
  • Reveals how to turn mistakes and struggles into valuable learning experiences
  • Provides examples of rich mathematical activities to replace rote learning
  • Explains ways to give students a positive math mindset
  • Gives examples of how assessment and grading policies need to change to support real understanding

Scores of students hate and fear math, so they end up leaving school without an understanding of basic mathematical concepts. Their evasion and departure hinders math-related pathways and STEM career opportunities. Research has shown very clear methods to change this phenomena, but the information has been confined to research journals—until now. Mathematical Mindsets provides a proven, practical roadmap to mathematics success for any student at any age.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Introduction ix

CHAPTER 1 The Brain and Mathematics Learning 1

CHAPTER 2 The Power of Mistakes and Struggle 11

CHAPTER 3 The Creativity and Beauty in Mathematics 21

CHAPTER 4 Creating Mathematical Mindsets: The Importance of Flexibility with Numbers 33

CHAPTER 5 Rich Mathematical Tasks 57

CHAPTER 6 Mathematics and the Path to Equity 93

CHAPTER 7 From Tracking to Growth Mindset Grouping 111

CHAPTER 8 Assessment for a Growth Mindset 141

CHAPTER 9 Teaching Mathematics for a Growth Mindset 171

References 209

Appendix A 217

Appendix B 269

About the Author 279

Index 281

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Author Information

DR. JO BOALER is a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University. The author of seven books and numerous research articles, she serves as an advisor to several Silicon Valley companies and is a White House presenter on girls and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). She is a regular contributor to news and radio in the United States and England and recently formed youcubed.org to give teachers and parents the resources and ideas they need to inspire and excite students about mathematics.

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“…positive and absorbing…” (Teach Secondary, February 2016)
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