Cultivating Habits of Mind at Lawrence

Cultivating Habits of Mind at Lawrence
PTO Meeting
Tuesday, April 8 – 8:00 am 

The phrase “habits of mind” refers to the thinking skills, dispositions and character at the heart of life-long learning. Helping students develop these habits of mind is part of our school vision and is closely connected to preparing students for 21st century learning.

Now in its second year, a faculty study group (funded by a generous grant from the Brookline Education Foundation) has been learning about habits of mind.  This year, the study group expanded from ten to sixteen members, representing grades 1, 2, 3 & 5 as well as Gr. 6/7 Math and Science, P.E./Health, and Special Education.  The goals for our group are to:

  • Deepen our knowledge and understanding of habits of mind theory and practice.
  • Identify and implement the intentional and explicit use of habits of mind language and strategies in the classroom.
  • Educate and involve parents in supporting the intentional and explicit use of habits of mind language and strategies at home.

In addition, the BEF grant has supported enrollment in on-line coursework offered through WIDE World at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.  Last fall, Monica Crowley and I completed a course called “Leading for Understanding.”  This spring, five teachers are enrolled in a course called “Making Thinking Visible.”

As we delve deeper into this work, I have begun to think about the habits of mind in two different ways.  Some habits can be characterized as falling under “non-cognitive” disposition and skills, such as persistence, managing impulsivity, and listening with understanding and empathy. Others focus squarely on thinking skills, such as thinking flexibly, questioning and problem posing, and thinking about your thinking (metacognition).

Based on learning from our course work, we are becoming increasingly interested in the notion of developing “thinking routines” and their potential for school-wide application. According to Project Zero’s Visible Thinking website: “Thinking routines are simple structures, for example a set of questions or a short sequence of steps, that can be used across various grade levels and content. What makes them routines, versus merely strategies, is that they get used over and over again in the classroom so that they become part of the fabric of classroom culture.

I hope you can join us to learn about this exciting work.

Rick Rogers

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