Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sources on Grit and Growth

Susan Turley and I are considering expanding the scope of incorporating grit and growth through the use of this book by Malcolm Gladwell.

Susan Turley and I are considering expanding the scope of incorporating grit and growth through the use of this book by Malcolm Gladwell.


Susan and I worked together on a three-day lesson for her senior Thematic Studies class on grit and growth where students examined different types of sources that could be used for the senior presentations.  The lesson began the in the same way as the lesson I collaborated on with Melissa Larisch, Changing Your Brain: A Lesson on Grit, Growth and Neuroplasticity.  However, instead of using the “one important point, one surprising point and a lingering question” strategy, students identified the following (available as a handout at the end of this post):

  • Author/Creator Purpose
  • Language and Diction Choices (particularly the use of analogy)
  • Facts
  • Examples
  • Appeals (ethos- credibility, pathos- emotion and logos- logic)

Then answered the following questions:

  • EVALUATE: Was this mode of presentation effective? What were the benefits of this mode of information delivery? What were the deficits?
  • PERSONAL RESPONSE: How did you connect to the author’s intended message? Give an example to support your answer.

The first source students watched was the two-minutes video on neuroplasticity posted here. The second source was this article from The New York Times entitled “If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow.”  The third source was a TEDTalk by Angela Lee Duckworth called “The Key to Success?  Grit.”

For each source, students were asked to do the following:

  1. While watching the video/reading, write down any language/diction choices, facts, examples or appeals used in the source
  2. When completed, write out the author’s purpose- 1 minute
  3. Pair and share the information written down thus far and, with your partner, answer the “Evaluate” and “Personal Response” Questions- 3 minutes
  4. Discuss the source as a class, sharing out what was found and evaluating the source in total

At the end of class, we discussed which source was most effective overall and shared out the personal responses and connections to the content.  Students identified Duckworth’s delivery and tone as a strength and found her to be most engaging.  However, they also identified the importance of multiple examples from The New York Times article and they use of a visual cue from the video.  Ultimately, they felt as though all of these sources would be best combined into a multimedia presentation.

In regards to content, a majority of students found the content to be personally relevant.  While many admitted they are “not there yet” in regards to grit, they found the information to be aspirational.

Turley and I plan on continuing this work into next year, perhaps expanding it to include the importance of defining one’s passion when establishing “grit.”  In addition, we are both going to read the Malcolm Gladwell book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and Battling Giants as a potential text to use with students to support these ideas further next year.

Additional Resources:

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