From Tracking to Growth Mindset Grouping

This is my first week back to school & what an awesome start! From the first day, we've been following Jo Boaler's Week of Inspirational Math plans. Each day reinforces the big ideas of our book study book, Mathematical Mindsets. She even has a FREE course for students and families called How to Learn Math. I'm recommending it to my class this year!  

Anyway, I'm so glad you're here! Today we're discussing Chapter 7: From Tracking to Growth Mindset Grouping. If you missed the first few chapters, you can catch up here:
Chapter Summary
Chapter 7 focused on the detriment of ability tracking. Boaler claims there is no stronger fixed mindset message to students than putting them into groups determined by achievement. Yikes; that is a powerful claim! What harm have I (unintentionally) done to students in the past?  International analysts discovered that the most successful countries are those that group by ability the latest and the least (p. 112). This chapter addresses the fear and the challenge of teaching heterogeneous groups effectively by giving several suggestions.

My Takeaway
Heterogenous groups are manageable IF the tasks are engaging enough, rigorous, and provide natural differentiation.

3 Tips for the Classroom
When grouping students, try using role task cards. This ensures everyone has a specific job.  Can you tell the green set uses British group roles (& spelling)? (Dr. Jo Boaler is from England. . .)
 The blue set of cards are the roles commonly used in the US.
 Print on cardstock & laminate, hole-punch the upper left corner of each card, then store on a ring. Pass out to each group. Or if you want to save on color ink, there are black & white versions; print on colored cardstock. You can download the task cards here.
Students need a choice of tasks; different tasks that allow for differentiation. You can read more about choice menus here. (Although now I"m embarrassed to have written about groups, but this was two years ago!)

I love how one school encouraged group responsibility by giving "group tests" (page 137) Students would each take a test individually, but then the teachers would randomly take only one test paper per group and grade it, giving the grade to the entire group!! Can you imagine? I love this; I'm going to try it this year! What a better way to clearly reinforce the importance of making sure ALL group members understand the mathematics. 

How do you group students for instruction?
An InLinkz Link-up


  1. Kathie, your Role Cards are amazing! I had found an okay set on TPT but most focused on completing the task in a procedural way, by showing work and following specific steps. We know now that math isn't just procedural! Thank you for making these to help foster our Growth Mindset Math Groups!!

    1. I'm so glad the role cards will be useful! I love them, too!! :)

  2. I'm sure that we all have unintentionally said or done something that we did not know would adversely affect our students. The important thing is that now we know better. Thanks for sharing the role cards!

    1. You're welcome for the role cards! Thanks for stopping by, Shametria!