Overview of the Habits of Minds

Persisting, Striving for Accuracy, Metacognition . . . these are Art Costa’s Habits of Minds. According to Costa, ” Habits of Mind is knowing how to behave intelligently when you DON’T know the answer. It means having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known: dichotomies, dilemmas, enigmas, and uncertainties. ” It’s been a long minute since I’ve focused on these habits. After 6-7 years of teaching STEAM, I finally realize how vital these habits are. Though it is really difficult to focus on all 16 Habits of Minds because they happen unconsciously yet they are sometimes not being named at the instance by the teacher and more importantly by our learners. So this year, I’ve once again attempted to bring them back into the limelight again. Instead of calling them Habits of Mind, I decided to call them Jedi Mastery Outcomes as these are the outcomes I want my students to practice relentlessly and grow in through the years they have STEAM with me. But instead of focusing on all 16, I’ve grouped them up in 5 categories

LEADERSHIP: Students will be able to lead themselves and with others to attain a goal.

INNOVATION: Students will have designed a variety of products that solved a need.

METACOGNITION: Students will be able to reflect on their actions by describing what they did, how they did it, and why they did it. They are able to reflect on their success and challenges and develop a strategy that helps them overcome their challenges.

DISCOVERY: Students investigate phenomena and dilemmas to determine their mechanisms and their purpose for existing.

COMMUNICATION: Students express their feelings, thinking, and ideas through speaking, writing, and multimedia to a variety of audiences.

Why the emphasis on the Habits of Mind?

Now, why am I putting my energy into using Art Costa’s Habit’s of Mind over our Common Core, NGSS, and other standards? Though science, math, art, computers science, and language arts standards are important and assessing them informs how well teachers, our students, or our school is doing, at the end of the day, it’s all about what skills and habits are our students needing to practice so that they are marketable and competitive in future that is unknown. Our curriculum and instruction need to be thought of as the medium in which these Habits of Minds act. There are so many standards out there that our students are also overwhelmed cognitively on what they need to really focus their energy on which is why I am focusing on those 5 outcomes listed above.

Mastery of the Habits

In order for students to demonstrate mastery of these outcomes, they must defend their mastery through the actions that they’ve taken through the learning that they have done. They can either do that through writing a blog or making a video blog. Below are some examples of exemplars.

Jaylan’s Mastery Defense
Emily’s Mastery Defense

If their defense meets the requirement of the rubric I gave them, they will receive a badge that represents the outcome that they defended. Each outcome has 4 levels of difficulty but they all build on each other. For instance, for the outcome COMMUNICATION

LEVEL 1: Multimedia Savvy

LEVEL 2: Persuasive Pitcher

LEVEL 3: Exceptional Exhibitioner

LEVEL 4: Masterful Mover

Below is a video lesson, that informs our students how I assess their learning. The grading aspect has been shifting lately as I want to make this process equitable. Realize based on this year’s process, next year’s mastery defense will once again change. This year is a rough run on this process.

In conclusion

This is my first year of actually bringing in this element of defending one’s learning of our Jedi Mastery Outcomes. Yes, there is lots of complaining by our young people because there is a lot of writing, explaining, demonstrating, defending, and showing and that my friend is torture (just kidding), our students in their zone of proximal development, their uncomfortable zone, their learning zone. Learning is more than just turning in a worksheet, a project, building something, or presenting on a subject matter and getting a grade Learning is all about what strategies did you use to get to the learning goal, why did you decided to execute that strategy the way you did, and how did you use our mastery outcomes to help you get there. That is where the work is and that is when learning becomes student-centered.

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