Famous Failures & Mindset

Sometimes teens think life and accomplishments are easy for everyone else but themselves. So not true! I love using examples of famous failures to show that sometimes one must fail in order to succeed, especially in the world of work. The Famous Failures & Mindset lessons and activities will help drive that message home.


  • Display the Bell Ringer Slide onto the screen. Ask… what these people have in common (other than being famous): Lady Gaga, Beyonce, J.K. Rowling, Michael Jordan and Steven Spielberg?
  • Divide students into small groups and assign the Pre-Reading Activity by projecting the Word Splash on Screen. Inform students that displayed are terms which have to do with Extraordinary Losers. By groups, generate complete sentences using the terms presented to show their predicted relationship to the topic. Brainstorm at least one sentence per term. Example: Shortcoming–Losers might experience a shortcoming if they fail to meet their goal.
  • Once the statements are generated, ask for a copy of the article.  Read the article together as a class and discuss their sentences. Were predictions correct? If not, further discuss.


  • iPad or Laptop
  • Projector & Screen


  • Introduce Growth Mindset and have students brainstorm what they think the topic means and how it relates to what they read in the article. 
  • Watch Squirrel Video and identify which squirrel has the growth mindset or fixed mindset. 
  • Read the Mindset Matters article and complete/discuss chart with characteristics of each type of mindset.
  • View The Power of Believing TedTalk video
  • Have students participate in the Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset Move Activity: Identify an area of the classroom as either Growth Mindset (helps you expand) or Fixed Mindset (keeps you small). Have students move to the area of the room according to the mindset statement called by the teacher.
  • Assign students the Famous Fails Project. Use the Million Stories FacePlants episodes for this project.
  • Randomly assign by having students spin the Wheel of Names to select their story.
  • Use the Famous Fails Research Guide to record your information. Once you have all of the information, create a single Flash Slide (see sample of J.K. Rowling based on this video) to present your “Famous Fail” that includes
    • the name of your “famous fail”
    • condensed answers from guide sheet
    • one image
  • Students present and share their famous fails flash slide and then as an exit prompt, students answer the following: Out of all the “famous fails” presentations, which one are you most surprised or inspired by? Explain why in one solid paragraph.


Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

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