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Connect: Mistakes are opportunities.

This is the high school version of activity #3: Mistakes are opportunities. There are 3 parts to this LearnStorm growth mindset activity. To assign the activity to your class, assign all 3 parts.  
Activity 3: Mistakes are opportunities.

Welcome back!

In the previous activity, we learned that our brains are designed to grow and that challenges are an important part of training our brains. But what happens when we make a mistake?
At the end of this lesson you will be able to:
  • Understand that mistakes are a key part of the learning process
  • Understand how mistakes can be both harmful and helpful
  • Identify the positive opportunities that come out of mistakes
Did you flinch when you read the word mistake? Maybe just a little bit? Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. In fact, our mistakes help us find areas in which we can grow and learn.
Let’s look at how our post-mistake decisions can make a huge impact.

The mistake

Herman is learning about US history and loves it. He loves how history is like reading a storybook with many twists, turns, and surprises. He imagines himself being a pilgrim on the Mayflower or standing next to George Washington in the fight for American independence.
While studying for his test, Herman reviewed all the chapters and the study guide that his teacher provided. He felt that he could do really well on the test.
But, when it came time for his test, he realized that he only remembered high-level events. He didn’t really understand how Benjamin Franklin’s ideals contributed to the fight for independence. He was completely stumped on the essay question.
Herman turned in his test but was super bummed. As he expected, he didn’t do so well on the test. He wanted to quit. He had spent so much time studying and reviewing events for the test, but it didn’t pay off. Maybe he wasn’t meant to study history.
Herman sad

Learning from his mistake

Herman talked to his friend, Mia, and she told him that he shouldn’t get upset about his bad grade since mistakes are learning opportunities and just a part of the learning process! She suggested that instead of getting discouraged or giving up, he should reflect on his mistakes, see why he made those mistakes, and then think of ways that he could avoid making the same mistakes again.
It’s a feedback opportunity!
Mia encouraged Herman to go to tutoring and ask for help figuring out a different learning strategy.
When Herman showed up to tutoring, his teacher gave him a few pointers on different learning strategies that might improve his understanding of concepts he was learning in history. Instead of memorizing facts and events, the teacher suggested he spend a little bit more time thinking about and answering the question why. His teacher encouraged Herman to retake the test and try again after giving this new learning strategy a try.
Herman and his teacher
Herman went home and studied in the way his teacher suggested, which made him feel much more confident. He found that understanding people's motives helped him more easily remember the order of the historical events.

The retake

Herman went in the next day for a retake.
He was so excited and pumped for the test that he raced through. He wanted to get it over and done with and see his grade improve.
When he got his test back, he didn’t do so well—again. This time he really wanted to give up. He had put in the extra hours to study and take the retake. Still, his score hadn't improved. He talked to his friend Mia again.

Learning from his mistake—again.

Mia asked him if he had looked at what he missed before calling it quits. She suggested that if he reviewed the questions he missed, he might find clues to how he could get a better grade in future cumulative tests, the final exam, or—if the teacher offered—another retake.
Mia also said that once you make a mistake, it doesn’t exempt you from making mistakes in the future. In our learning journey, it’s very possible for us to trip up and make mistakes over and over, but we just have to slow down and reflect.
Herman and Mia
After talking to Mia, Herman reflected on his mistakes and reread the questions that he had missed. He realized that he had made silly mistakes, such as misreading the question or bubbling in the wrong bubble! He also realized that silly mistakes didn’t define him. He just needed to slow down to read the questions correctly and also check his work multiple times before turning the test in. This was a slow-down opportunity for Herman.
Even though it took Herman some time, he learned two valuable lessons from his retakes. He changed up his learning strategy in a feedback opportunity and learned to check his work in a slow-down opportunity. Herman’s mistake changed from something bad into something good. He reflected and reviewed his mistakes to learn a valuable lesson and created a plan so that he wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes again.
You have completed part 1 of 3 for this activity: Connect!

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