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Our Plastic Brain

Updated: Jun 1

You may have already heard the analogy that compares our brains with muscles. Just like we can strengthen our muscles by exercising, our brains can also grow and change throughout our lives. This is connected to the concept of neuroplasticity, or the brain's ability to make new connections and pathways every time we learn a new skill or try something new. We're never too old to learn something new or overcome challenges. In this lesson plan, grade 2 students will explore brain plasticity, the differences between a growth and a fixed mindset, and how mistakes can be perceived as valuable learning opportunities.



Goals


  • Students will learn that our brain is able to change and grow throughout our lives.

  • Students will discuss the value of making mistakes while learning.

  • Students will understand the meaning of having a growth mindset and how it can affect our learning.


Resources



Starter/Warm-up (5 minutes)


Start the lesson by asking students to share what they already know about their brains. This could include its function, how it helps them think and learn, or any other interesting facts they've learned before.

Explain that today, we will be using some important words to learn more about our brains. Write these words on the board: grow, fixed, flexible, plastic. Explain their meanings using simple language and relatable examples.


Main activities (25 minutes)


  • Watch the video titled "Your Brain is Like a Muscle" (included on the slides). After watching the video, ask the students to stand up and walk around the classroom. When you say "STOP," they should freeze and turn to the closest person. In pairs, students should then share their thoughts or comments about the video. Encourage them to discuss something they found interesting or something new they learned.


  • Show the students some sentences using slide 2. Ask the students if they agree or disagree with each sentence. Encourage them to explain their reasons briefly. Use slide 3 and explain that some of the sentences express ideas connected to a growth mindset, meaning believing that we can improve and learn through effort. Others express a fixed mindset, which means thinking that our abilities are set and cannot change. Divide the students into small groups and give each group a list of sentences and a chart with two headings: one labeled "Growth Mindset" and the other labeled "Fixed Mindset." Students must cut out the sentences and work together to decide which mindset each sentence represents. They will then place the sentences in the appropriate section of the chart. After all groups have completed their charts, bring the class back together. Ask each group to share a few examples of sentences they categorized and explain why they placed them under growth or fixed mindset.


Closure (5 minutes)


Remind students that our brain is flexible and continues to grow and change throughout our entire life. This means that we can always learn new things and improve our skills.

It's important to emphasize that when we practice something, the connections in our brain become stronger. Just like exercising our muscles makes them stronger, practicing helps our brain become better at tasks.

As a class, discuss why it’s important to have a growth mindset and how it can help in learning and everyday activities. Highlight that making mistakes is an important part of learning. When we make mistakes and figure out how to correct them, our brain forms new and stronger connections, helping us improve and remember better.


Follow-up activities


  • Use the mindset charts to initiate a conversation about how the sentences from each category can affect students' feelings and behaviors. Prompt students to consider how they feel when they believe a growth mindset statement versus a fixed mindset statement. Discuss how embracing growth mindset statements might make them feel more confident, motivated, and open to trying new things. On the other hand, fixed mindset statements might lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness, or a fear of failure.

  • Provide specific examples and ask students to share how they might react in different situations based on their mindset. For example, ask "What would you do if you found a math problem very hard?" and compare the reactions based on different mindsets.

  • Encourage students to reflect on their own experiences and share times when they have had a growth or fixed mindset. Ask them how it affected their actions and what they might do differently in the future.

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