At the Project Zero Conference in Clarkston, I heard a presenter make the analogy of about being at a conference to being on vacation at the beach. There is so much to take in, sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts. She spoke about not being able to take the entire beach and ocean home with you, rather you find a piece to take home with you. This memento is something special that you connect with to remind you of your experience. A piece of driftwood. Yesterday I experienced another thought provoking day at the Clarkston Administration Building at a Cultures of Thinking conference. I took a few pieces of driftwood with me.
The first is Carol Dweck’s idea of a Growth Mindset. In a growth mindset, people believe that abilities are developed through lived experiences. When developing this disposition, learners realize that having new experiences pushes their thinking and creates deeper understandings. Connecting this to George Lakoff’s writings on Metaphor Theory, supports my thinking that people who possess a growth mindset, reevaluate their understandings through each experience looking for deeper understandings. How can we successfully foster a community in our classrooms which honor a a growth Mindset?
My second piece of driftwood is a quote from Ron Ritchhart’s new book Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform our Schools (2012).
“What will I actually ask students to do with the skills and knowledge that are acquiring that will develop their understanding and push it forward?” (pg. 13)
Thinking about the 8 Cultural Forces in my classroom, brings my focus to opportunities. I reflect upon my lesson planning with a question such as, what problem solving opportunities am I designing for the learners in my classroom to engage in thinking through authentic processes as musicians?
Providing such opportunities allows learners who are at different places on a continuum, multiple entry points and divergent ways of showing understanding. When we look at individual growth, it is through this type of experience that we can assess individual growth.
I will post examples of student work and how these Cultural Forces are marshaled in my music classroom.

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