Grit Assignments

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My 2017-2018 Grit Assignments

This semester, I am teaching online.  I have decided that every week my students will have at least one Grit Assignment because I want them to think about how they can be gritty all semester long.  Some weeks the assignment will require more time and effort than others, but every week they will have something. Here is what I plan on doing:

  • Assignment 1:  Students will complete Carol Dweck’s Mindset Quiz and Angela Duckworth’s Grit Scale after they watch an entire lesson on grit.
  • Assignment 2:  In the weekly discussion, students will discuss how they can apply what they learned about grit and growth mindset to their future careers as classroom teachers. They will find books, posters, and more that they can use in their future classrooms to teach their students about grit and growth mindset.  Some of the books they have already shared are: Curious George, The Little Engine that Could, Oh The Places You’ll Go, and The Boy Who Never Gave Up (Stephen Curry’s children’s book).  I will compile all of these resources so that students will have a running list of resources they can use in their classrooms.
  • Assignment 3:  Students will tell their grit stories using Adobe Spark Video.
  • Assignment 4:  Students will find real examples of grit or growth mindset and post those in a discussion.  Some examples include finding a news story, sharing a Facebook post, or writing a summary of another person’s grit story. Here is an example that one of my students found:

  • Assignment 5:  Students will write 10 positive affirmation statements that demonstrate a growth mindset. These statements will be in present-tense and should reflect how they will overcome any fixed mindsets they may have.  They can use any of the resources that were posted in previous discussions, or they can be based on books they’ve read, quotes they find, videos they’ve viewed, and more.  Here are a few examples: 1) “I think I can. I think I can” (The Little Engine That Could), 2) ““You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.” (Oh, The Places You’ll Go).  Here is an example from one of my students!

  • Assignment 6: Now that students have written affirmations for themselves, add purpose to this assignment by having them write affirmations for the people in their lives. Based on the needs and circumstances of the people they love, students can craft affirmation statements that help those for whom they care develop their own grit. (This assignment was created by participants in Grit Certification Program!)
  • Assignment 7: Students can listen to a podcast and discuss the elements of grit and growth mindset that were discussed.  Malcolm Gladwell has a great podcast series called Revisionist History. “The Big Man Can’t Shoot” is one episode that has a lot of possibility for students to reflect on grit and growth mindset.  There is also a great Freakonomics episode where Angela Duckworth talks directly about the characteristics of gritty people. Click here to access this podcast episode.
  • Assignment 8:  TED Talks are short but are engaging and have powerful messages. There are several talks that highlight an individual’s grit/growth mindset story even though that may not be the focus of the story.  As the instructor, you can search for topics and try to find videos that demonstrate grit/growth mindset. Students can then watch this TED talk and reflect on the grit/growth mindset that was present.  This can be done during a class discussion, or you can use TEDed as a way to get students to think about the grit/growth mindset elements revealed in the talk.  With TEDed, you can assign the talk for homework and ask students specific questions about grit/growth mindset.  Here is a sample TEDed lesson that I just created.
  • Assignment 9:  Now that students are familiar with TED Talks, you can have your students find a TED Talk that has a grit/growth mindset story and share this story in a discussion forum.  To introduce this video, students can summarize the grit/growth mindset story within the talk in 1-2 sentences. Make sure students use the terminology they have learned in this 1-2 sentence summary!
  • Assignment 10:  Many educators search Google images as a way to include a visual element to lecture notes.  But this assignment, one I learned years ago while in an Advanced Placement seminar, promotes critical thinking (which is a component of any gritty assignment) and tenacity.  To get started, all you need is a blank PowerPoint presentation and Google.  Think of an abstract word like courage, love, or loyalty.  Search this word in google, and then click on Images.  Find 5-7 images that you like related to that term, and copy each image on a separate slide in the PowerPoint presentation.  Once your presentation is ready, you can share it with the class. Here is how the activity should go:
    • Tell students that you searched a term in Google and your search resulted in the images they are about to see.  They will look at all images and try to guess the word that you searched.
    • Show each image for 5-7 seconds so that students can examine the image. Then, move on to the next image. Repeat until all images have been shown.  Students should make a list of the words that they think you searched.
    • On the final slide, you can have all of the images.
    • One by one, students will share ONE word.  If the student is incorrect, quickly point to the next student in the room. Repeat this until someone says the word. This may require that you go around the room more than once.

You can also use this assignment as a way to assess students’ understanding of grit/growth mindset. Instead of searching for any abstract word, search one of the terms associated with grit/growth mindset. Some words to consider are: mindset, interest, practice, purpose, hope, growth, resilience, instinct, and tenacity!

For online classes, create a presentation and have students “guess” using Google Forms.  When students are done, you can have them view the correct responses.  Here is a sample assignment!

  • Assignment 11:  Take any of the assignments that you have done so far, and make it specific to a more adult audience.  How can you translate any of this information for other college students or to your future colleagues.  You can create a video, a video lesson, a poster, or a presentation that teaches or reinforces the ideas of grit or growth mindset to an adult audience.

Assignments 12-15 are based on Angela Duckworth’s 4 characteristics of gritty people: interest, practice, purpose, and hope.

  • Assignment 12:  Interest – For this assignment, I have students connect their learning to something that interests them. This can be for any class they are taking, and they can connect their learning to their future careers, their current jobs, a current role they are in, or to a class that interests them.  If students are having trouble in one class, but are thriving in another, I will ask them to connect what they are doing in the class that interests them and ask how they can apply that to the class for which they are struggling.  Students can write this assignment, create a short video, or share it in a class discussion.
  • Assignment 13: Practice – For this assignment, students will reflect on how they are studying for their current classes.  This comes right in time for students to begin prepping for the final exam.  Students can use this sheet: Studying for your College Classes as a guide to intentional practice.
  • Assignment 14:  Purpose – Students can connect what they are learning to others.  Students will create a review/summary a post for an audience.  They can create a video, write a tweet, post an image with a caption that summarizes what they are learning in class.
  • Assignment 15: Hope – When life takes a turn for the worse, it is hard for us to focus on anything BUT the negative that is going on. What happens, though, when we are intentional about focusing on the things for which we are grateful? While doing so may not erase the negativity that is going on, focusing on gratitude seems to put things into perspective for us, and possibly give us a little hope. For this assignment, the Gratitude assignment, students will write a list (of at least 3 things, but I would encourage more) for which they are grateful. (This assignment was created by a participant in the Grit Certification Program!
  • Assignment 16: Ever heard of the six word memoir? What is now a phenomenon began when Ernest Hemingway was asked to tell the story of his life in six words. His six word memoir: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Smith Magazine invites people to share their own six word memoirs, and now there are books filled with people’s stories. Here is a video that highlights a few of those stories. For this assignment, that will be given at the end of the semester, students can reflect on their semester as a student and write a 6 word grit/growth mindset story that summarizes their semester.

  • Assignment 17 (an extension/alternative of Assignment 16): Instead of having students write their own grit/growth mindset 6 word memoir, pair them with another student in class earlier in the semester. Have each person in the pair write the six word memoir of the other person. (This assignment was created by a participant in the Grit Certification Program!)
      • *For more examples of six word memoirs, visit the six word memoir YouTube channel. Below is an example of how the six word memoir is focused on one topic.
  • Assignment 18:  Using a program like Adobe Spark Post, students can create their own growth mindset posters that can be shared with the class or the entire school.  This idea comes from the QEP slides designed by High Point University. To view some of the QEP slides, click here.
  • Assignment 19:  On the first day of my Introduction to Teaching class, I have my students write a letter to themselves on their first day of teaching.  Here is the video that explains the assignment.


What does this have to do with grit/growth mindset? Well, this assignment can be revised to help give students hope or to help them demonstrate tenacity.  Early in the semester, students can write a letter to themselves for either the end of the semester or when the semester gets tough.  As the instructor, you should hang on to this letter until students really need it.


Adding Mindset/Grit to your Assignments

  1.  Add a question about mindset, gritty traits, or the dimensions of GRIT on a quiz/informal assessment.
  2. Make mindset or grit a part of the assignment. For example, when I teach EDUC 1300, and my students go on a scavenger hunt, they are to include how each area they searched is connected to each dimension of GRIT.
  3. Provide students with ongoing revision or re-testing options.  Require students to go to the writing lab or keep a quiz open in D2L (or your learning management system) for a week and allow students unlimited opportunities to take the quiz until it closes.
  4. Add GRIT to your rubric or grade students’ grit based on a rubric.  Here are a few examples that I found online:
    1. Sample Grit Rubric
    2. Sample GRIT Rubric 2
    3. Sample Grit Rubric 3
  5. Revise a current assignment by adding at least one of the following to an assignment: collaboration, critical thinking, reflection, or application.  If possible, try adding all of these.  Here is an example of a revised assignment. grittify assignments
  6. Have students tell their Grit story. Here is the sample assignment page. Below are a few grit stories.
    1. Sample Student Story 1
    2. Sample Student Story 2
    3. Sample Student Story 3

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