Integrating the 16 Habits of Mind in 21st C Teaching!
“Habits of Mind are the characteristics of what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems, the resolutions of which are not immediately apparent.” (Art Costa).
Employing Habits of Mind requires a composite of many skills, attitudes cues, past experiences, and proclivities. It means that we value one pattern of thinking over another, and therefore it implies choice making about which habit should be employed at which time. It includes sensitivity to the contextual cues in a situation signaling that it is an appropriate time and circumstance to employ this pattern.
While there may be more, 16 characteristics of effective problem-solvers have been derived from studies of efficacious problem-solvers from many walks of life. (Costa and Kallick, 2009).
Have students identify characteristics of persistence shown by individuals in well-known events, or imagine what might have occurred if more or less persistence was shown in a given scenario.
2. Managing Impulsivity
Model the use of patience in the classroom, including wait time during discussion, or using helpful sentence stems that reflect intentional choice (such as “After reviewing all of the possible solutions . . . “).
3. Listening to Others with Understanding and Empathy
Identify the most common “listening set-asides” in conversation so that students can begin to recognize common “errors” that occur in everyday communication. These errors might include comparing, judging, placating or giving advice instead of really listening and understanding a message.
4. Thinking Flexibly
Use RAFT assignments (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) where students must consider a situation, letter, speech or poem from a perspective other than their own, or that of the original speakers.
5. Thinking About Our Thinking (Metacognition)
Ask students to map out their own thinking process. This can be done simply at first, e.g., diagramming the relationship between a want and a need, a gesture and a need to gesture. Then make it increasingly complex — mapping out how characters from books or thinkers in history might have arrived at certain starting or stopping points in thought.
6. Striving for Accuracy and Precision
Use “three before me,” a strategy that insists on any important assignment being checked by at least three other people before being handed in.
7. Questioning and Posing Problems
Create a “parking lot” area in the classroom — stocked with post-it notes — where students can post questions that may not fit into the pace or format of a given class. Then highlight the better questions periodically, or use them as jumping off points for discussion or even lesson planning.
8. Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
Use question stems like “What do you remember about . . . ?”, “When have you ever seen anything like this?” or “Tell me what you know about . . . ” Whether you consider this activating schema, prior knowledge, or simply getting students more comfortable and in tune with what they already know, it can be a huge boost to the learning process.
9. Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
Remind students to avoid the vagueness and abstraction — and imprecision — of terms like always, never, all, everybody, teachers, celebrities, technology, they, we, should and must. Post these kinds of words or phrases where students can be reminded of them — and know to avoid them. And hopefully know why they should avoid them.
10. Gathering Data Through All Senses
Playfully allow students to “cite” sources from sensory data in addition to traditional textual sources. Also consider including the compelling use of such data in a rubric for formal assessment.
11. Creating, Imagining and Innovating
Offer persistent sources of inspiring thought, design, art or multimedia through writing prompts, discussion points or simply as a daily class closure. This models not only creativity, but also expertise, and is readily available on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.
12. Responding with Wonderment and Awe
Don’t just allow opportunities for student choice in topics, formats or learning pathways — insist on it. Refuse to move the class forward until they are bringing their own passions into the learning experience.
13. Taking Responsible Risks
Create an environment where failure is analyzed, not punished.
14. Finding Humor
Point out humor where it is not immediately apparent, especially in stories and examples from your own life. This can help establish the “relativity” of “things,” which supports more accurate analysis. Humor makes everything better.
15. Thinking Interdependently
Using digital and social media imposes at least a topical need for interdependence from the beginning. The more thinking is published and shared, the more opportunity there will be for cognitive interdependence, though even opportunities aren’t guarantees that it will happen.
16. Learning Continuously
Intermittently revisit old ideas, writing and projects to identify areas for development, improvement or revision. This is especially natural in digital domains, where content is more fluid — updated, shared, hyperlinked, curated, reformatted into more or less visual terms, then shared again.