Habits of Mind


“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” ~ Plutarch

This quote captures the Habits of Mind philosophy that mastery of content alone does not ignite the power of the mind.

Harvard Public Schools Strategic Plan – Goal #1
“Harvard’s entire pre-K – 12 curricula will integrate core content knowledge with the critical thinking skills needed for success in the 21st century.”

Habits of Mind was selected to achieve Strategic Plan Goal #1 at the Hildreth Elementary School. The initiative was launched in August 2009.

Research based approach, versus a program, to purposely nurture critical thinking skills 16 researched-based behaviors support critical thinking

HoMs INTRODUCED SCHOOL WIDE as of January 2012

  • Persisting
  • Managing Impulsivity
  • Responding with Wonderment and Awe
  • Applying Past Knowledge
  • Listening with Understanding and Empathy
  • Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision

HoMs for 2012-2013
  • September - Striving for Accuracy
  • November - Questioning and Posing Problems
  • February - Finding Humor
  • April - Taking Responsible Risks

HoMs remaining
  • Metacognition – Thinking about Thinking
  • Gathering Data through All the Senses
  • Thinking Interdependently
  • Thinking Flexibly
  • Creating, Imaging, Innovating
  • Remaining Open to Continuous Learning

    School-wide read alouds of books that exemplify a HoM are read in all classrooms during a specified time frame. School-wide books are “ageless’ and strengthen that common experience and language to support a school-wide culture of HoM. In addition, teachers select books from the lists that are appropriate for their grade-level. The following is a list of school-wide read alouds completed to date.
    Book Title Habit of Mind
    Brave Irene Persisting
    Owl Moon Managing Impulsivity
    The Ox-Cart Man Listening with Understanding and Empathy
    The Wednesday Surprise Listening with Understanding and Empathy
    The Igauna Brothers Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
    Owen and Mzee
    Twilight Comes Twice
    Responding with Wonderment and Awe

    Operationalize charts are used to model the application of HoMs. Teachers often guide students to complete a class chart and add to it as students identify HoM behaviors. Developmentally appropriate charts were created for each HoM for grades PrK-1, 2-3 and 4-5. (Example below)
    Stick To It!
    Looks Like Sounds Like Feels Like
    I stay focused.
    I do not quit.
    I keep trying even if it’s hard.
    I try another way - Plan B.
    I can work with others.

    I can ask others for ideas.
    I take time to do my best.
    I can do this.
    I have an idea.
    What’s your idea?
    How about this?
    It’s ok.
    I just need to try my best.

    It will be worth my effort.
    I can have fun.
    I might be challenged.
    I might get frustrated
    I am proud.
    I know I tried my best.


    Introduced HoM will replace the previously used Social and Learning Skills on February report cards.

    We encourage you to educate yourself about the Habits of Mind approach to teaching critical thinking skills in all aspects of life. And, invite you to join us to kindle the flame of intelligent, creative and flexible thinking in all our children. http://www.habitsofmind.org