Merging Growth Mindset With the 2nd Grade English Curriculum Through a Comic Based Activity Book

The Struggle Book

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The Struggle Book.png

Date: Jan - May 2018

Team Members: Katie Reinders & Alex Lee


  • Rapid Prototyping

  • Human Centered Design

  • User Research

  • Marketing

  • Ideating

  • User Experience/Service Design

  • Insight Synthesis

  • Storytelling

The Problem

Growth mindset is an important subject area to elementary school teachers, but every subject is in competition for time.


Teacher's Guide

We found that teachers wanted to teach growth mindset in their classrooms, but currently every subject is seen as competing for time rather than being part of a cohesive education. Not only that, but teachers felt belittled by the literal script provided to them by current curriculum that take hours to read and prepare. The teacher's guide is designed to fit into the existing personal narrative curriculum and   require no more than 15 minutes of preparation. 

Student Booklet


Students draw comics about times they've struggled. This helps them learn the parts of a story and add detail to it. They then take the comic panels and translate them into text. Drawing is more intuitive to kids and when they translate it to text they will be able to add more detail. They regularly share their stories and as a group name how other students overcame those struggles. As they learn, there are periodic assessments to test both personal narrative and growth mindset skills. Assessments showing improvement are key to classroom adoption of a curriculum.

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We designed our packaging to be purchased and refilled online. Our main goal was to get this product into the classroom, so we decided the teacher could either purchase refills or just download the PDF of the booklet for free. The box includes a QR code as well as a link written beneath the lid to easily find refills. The back includes a brief description so teachers can share it easily with others. It is shaped similarly to a letter to share the feeling of opening up something important. Finally, it has a child friendly pattern, to encourage drawing on it and making it the classroom's own.


The Process

We began with human centered user research with a dozen grade school teachers. We learned about their struggles in the classroom via interviews and observation. We then took them and found the deeper need for subjects to not be in constant competition. After that, we ran several rounds of prototypes in classrooms with the teachers and their students, getting feedback from both. We finished with a week long trial of the final prototype in classrooms without our intervention to see if the activity truly completed what was expected of it.

First Quarter Final Prototype

We found that our activity book worked well during the longer trial and each of the daily lessons fit well into the student's attention spans. Not only that, but teachers made additional copies because kids wanted to "do their own struggle books" during recess. We collected advice on how to make it better from teachers, which is what led us to our final design. We then presented the Struggle Book at our end of quarter trade show. The final packaging came during our second quarter.


For the majority of our second quarter, we ran a Kickstarter campaign. While we were not successfully funded, we were placed on Kickstarter's "Projects We Love" list, and were featured at the Bay Area Maker Faire, where over 100 people signed up to support the project. 

The Struggle Book: Student Workbook
The Struggle Book: Teacher's Guide
Huge thanks to my incredible teammates!