The one about a growth mindset novel unit

Often when I see posts and activities about growth mindset, they usually include some amazing picture books. While I love picture books, novels are a huge part of my classroom. My yearlong curriculum is based completely on using novels (with some additional resources, especially for non-fiction). This is when I decided to plan a novel unit based around growth mindset.

This post may contain some affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. You will never incur a fee or charge for this.

This unit is planned as the first of the year for my fifth graders, but it can also be used at other points in the year. 

These three novels are my main focus:
1. Because of Mr. Terupt: Several of the students go through a mindset change, but my favorite is Jeffrey. He’s a quiet character so he can be overlooked, but his mental shift is so powerful.
2. Fish in a Tree: Ally is in 6th grade but can’t read. This is a concept that’s foreign to most of our students. And for those that struggle, they will see a kindred spirit in Ally. Her mindset completely changes from beginning to the end. 
3. Holes: Stanley goes through both mental and physical changes throughout the novel. He learns a lot about himself and grows as a person during his experience at Camp Green Lake.

Here’s a picture of my standards based outline: 

During the first two weeks, we’ll focus on Because of Mr. Terupt, which my students will have read over the summer.* The book is segmented into months, which works perfectly for our review. Using discussion task cards and our monthly summary booklet, we can focus on important parts of the book. Since my students have already read it, I’m trying to have them review it without having them completely reread the whole book. We’ll start using it to model narrative elements, including types of conflict, and discuss character traits. Each of the characters is so unique that it’s easy to explore their traits and how they change over the

course of the book. The last thing we’ll discuss is theme. There are several different themes in this book, but my goal is to focus on growth mindset, which will easily segue us into our next books!

Learning Styles

We will start Fish in a Tree as our read aloud by the second week. I always save the last 10-15 minutes of my ELA block for read aloud time. (If you don’t plan for it, it’s easy to run out of time, or never have enough time. I plan for it, my students expect it, and we all know it’s an important part of our time together!) 

Fish in a Tree will serve as point of comparison for Because of Mr. Terupt. Both books feature students struggling to deal with difficult times. Their journeys are different and the way they approach the challenges are different. Growth mindset! And really, fixed mindset at first from Ally as she struggles with reading. Text connections are a huge part of my decision to use this book as a read aloud. Similarly to Because of Mr. Terupt, we will use task cards for discussion and also for writing. We’ll also talk about learning styles and how we learn individually. This will help me to know my students better and plan better lessons. As with most of my read alouds, our Fish in a Tree time will be more casual because I want my students to enjoy the book and not think of it as “work.” Our writing and discussions are more open-ended and less formal. So now let’s talk about the real work with my third book.

During week 3 of school, we’ll start Holes. This is our first full-on, in depth close read together. I love love love this book. This is one of those books that I decided I was going to teach before I even became a teacher. I try to build up the excitement for this book from day 1. {Check out this post to see how I set the stage to engage for Holes and other novels.} 

Setting the stage to engage for Holes!

For this book, we’ll be looking at those same reading standards- narrative elements, character traits, theme, and text connections- and my students will be doing more of the work on their own. We’ll use our lapbook to delve deep into the text. For regular assessments, I’ll have my students complete these Quick Checks. My students are assigned chapters to read every couple days as part of their homework. They also can work on their reading during any of their free time. The Quick Checks serve as an assessment for me and for them so that we can both see if they’re paying attention to their reading. 

As we’re reading, the theme of growth mindset and the importance of reading will come up through our work and discussions. We’ll also use this non-fiction Illiteracy in America piece (from the Caramel Apple Teacher). My students were amazed at the statistics for children and adults who couldn’t read. This was a powerful real world connection about reading that connects with both Holes and Fish in a Tree

By the time we are finished with these three books, students will have a solid understanding of narrative elements, character traits, theme, and text connections in addition to growth mindset. There will be a culminating project where students can choose how they want to show their learning (see the options in the unit outline). As we continue through the year, we can keep reflecting back on these books to make more connections and use these characters as role models for growth mindset. 

What other novels would you recommend for using growth mindset?

*NOTE: My school asks us to assign two books for summer reading and I chose Because of Mr. Terupt as one of my reads, knowing it would fit perfectly at the beginning of the year. If you aren’t able to have students to read it ahead of time, then it could easily be a read aloud or independent read over a couple weeks. 

Share it:


You might also like...