Growth Mindset Lesson Plan #2: From Laptop to Classroom

In Growth Mindset Lesson Plan, I tried to bridge the gap between a widespread psychology theory to a practical lesson plan. Well, here’s another gap that needs bridging: practical lesson plan to actually doing this lesson with real learners. 


Of the two cultural example options, I went down the Zootopia route with my intermediate 13-year-olds last Thursday (9th November) in our 90 minute lesson, having set homework for them to watch the film in English, or at least be familiar with the main plot and characters.

So, let’s start with the important thing before I delve into the details: what did they take away from the lesson? It’s hard to guess, so I just asked for their 3 main takeaways. Here’s what they wrote (one had to leave early, hence 8 not 9!):

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this is a good start. Sure, some of them were more focused on the film than the mindset lessons, but that’s fine; I think the lesson was memorable in any case. This lesson was a starting gun, not a finish line: now they will understand my future references to mindset when giving feedback and correcting errors.

So did I follow the lesson plan word for word?

Of course not! As Adrian Underhill said in his workshop at IH Torun, any lesson plan is a ‘non-stick plan’ and is there to be improvised upon like jazz musicians interpreting a music score, adapting it to learners and the situations of the day.

Stage 1. Lead in

As described in the lesson plan, but I added a third option (‘?’ on the board below) to give students the chance to explain some other reaction they’d have. Here’s the board I prepared before the lesson:


It was an engaging lead in. Learners exchanged real anecdotes, listened to each other, probed each other. Most expressed initial annoyance at failure (lasting between 5 minutes and 2 days) before they tried again/found out how they could do better. This was great to hear!

One interesting quote from Polina in response to 3): “I have an 8 and my teacher tells me how to get a 10. But why do more when 8 is a good mark?” A clear example of why focusing on marks is so detrimental. 

Stage 2. Introducing Mindset Theory

As described in the lesson plan in 2s and 3s. Here’s Artyom and Sofija’s hands busy at work:

Mindset lesson 3

Stage 3. Cultural example – Option B: Zootopia

Having watched/researched the film for their homework, the learners chipped in with the main storyline before I told the story with my finest Adrian Underhill storytelling skills.

We then did the quote dictation, and four students wrote them out on the board. We spent a bit of time on vocab (shifty, untrustworthy – the word stress was key here!) before we discussed if the quotes represented growth mindset (positive) or fixed mindset (negative) thinking:


I then continued the story, as per the lesson plan.

Stage 4. Zootopia soundtrack with three levels of difficulty

This was VERY revealing. With no prompting and no pressure, I gave the learners the choice of the easier, harder and the hardest options. The big worry when doing this is that students will all take the easiest route, but the hope is that they know their level and have the motivation to challenge themselves. Of my 9 students today:

0 chose the easier

6 chose the harder

3 chose the hardest

This is exactly what I wanted for the intermediate level. In reality, the hardest was a little too tricky, and the easier one was too easy. They know their level at the moment and are keen to push themselves. VOILA!!

Stage 4. The neuroscience

Discussing this after, this information seemed to really motivate the learners. Seeing how neurons grow and form new links was a real eye-opener, as you can see by the 3 main things they learned. After the video, just to make sure they had got the gist, I asked them to complete this sentence:


Stage 5. Situations

Dividing the class into 2s and 3s, I adapted the examples given in the lesson plan to fit in with these student’s interests outside the classroom (if you don’t know this much about your learners, sort it out!) Testing the rest of the class with their fixed and growth mindset reactions to these situations clearly demonstrated how they had understood the concept.

Stage 6. 3 main things you learned in today’s lesson

Unchartered territory! It’s not on the lesson plan *queue panic*

The learners’ responses are at the top of this post.

Stage 7. Board race

5 minutes left so time for a Mindset Theory-themed game between two teams:


Yes, suicide was an extreme example, and someone’s simplification of growth mindset as ‘don’t worry, be happy’ needs some remolding, but we’ll get there!

Have you tried the Growth Mindset Lesson Plan out yet? How did it go? As usual, please leave a comment below or contact me at





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