Using Nothing You Can’t Do! in the Classroom
Using Nothing You Can’t Do! in the Classroom
PUBLISHED: Monday, July 30, 2018 by Mary Cay Ricci

Many teachers have heard about the value of instilling growth mindset thinking into their classrooms. However, many are not quite sure how to do that once they get past providing feedback and praise to students in a way that encourages perseverance and resiliency. We all know that students need a lot of opportunities to read a variety of nonfiction texts. Nothing You Can’t Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets (grades 3–8) can be used as one way to help students internalize just exactly what growth mindset thinking is all about. It was written to purposefully engage the reader by asking questions and providing opportunities to reflect. Here are a few ideas for using this nonfiction text in the classroom: 

  • Encourage students to identify sections that they don’t quite understand yet. Ask students to generate questions as they read. Using sticky notes on the pages, students can note questions they have about the text, such as:
    • If I know that I am good at something and don’t need to practice, why is that a fixed mindset? 
    • I like it when things are easy, so why is it so important that I am challenged? 
  • Don’t miss the “Extras” section in the back of the book. One thing you’ll find is a list of words to be curious about (p. 113). These include tenacityperseveranceresiliencystaminapersistencegrit, and several others. The list includes a few questions that require students to reason and discern the differences among words that have similar meanings. For example, “How would you rank these words in order of importance? How might you rank them in order of their strength?” There are several other activities in the Extras section that are perfect for classroom use. 
  • Introduce the reciprocal teaching model. I find the reciprocal teaching model very effective with students when discussing nonfiction texts. In groups of four, have students take on different roles: the summarizer, questioner, clarifier, and predictor. “Secret #9: Your Brain Can Get Smarter! And Stronger!” (p. 49) is a good one for reciprocal teaching (more information about reciprocal teaching can be found here).
  • Utilize the QR codes. There are a lot of cartoon and video QR codes throughout the book for students to watch and learn from. As a culminating task, consider having students create new cartoons or a short video that demonstrates their knowledge of the content.

Nothing You Can’t Do!: The Secret Power of Growth Mindsets is a perfect back-to-school book. It will provide your students with ways to tackle challenges and approach learning across all content areas.

Click here to learn more about Mary Cay Ricci.