Critical & Creative Thinking

Habits of Mind

The Habits of Mind are a set of research based thinking strategies and skills that are extremely beneficial when applied to problems the solutions to which are not immediately known.  As parents and teachers we benefit by exploring and developing these positive thinking habits in ourselves in conjunction to teaching and practicing these with our students. By learning about and applying the Habits of Mind when we are faced with problems and challenges, we give ourselves a chance to reflect rather than react, to be thoughtful rather than to be thoughtless.  The Habits of Mind are thinking dispositions to work on throughout a lifetime.  When learners become familiar with these habits and with the language of the habits, they are able  to engage in thought processes that encourage creativity, intelligent gathering of information and the ability to be flexible and open minded. The sixteen identified Habits of Mind are listed below.  Click on the button to go to the Habits of Mind institute for more detailed information and resources. In addition, you can see a free preview of the Learning & Leading with the Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success by Art Costa and Bena Kallick.

  • Thinking Flexibly: exploring alternatives
  • Finding Humor: willingness to laugh at oneself
  • Managing Imuplsivity: reflecting before reacting
  • Persisting: follow through and focus
  • Gathering Data Through All The Senses: look, listen, touch, taste, smell
  • Listening with Understanding & Empathy: relating to and respecting others
  • Questioning and Problem Posing: developing a questioning attitude
  • Creating, Imagining and Innovating​: being original 
  • Respondong with Wonderment and Awe: promoting a sense of openess 
  • Striving for Accuracy: nurturing a sense of carefulness and crafstmanship
  • Communicating with Clarity and Precision: being clear when speaking and writing
  • Taking Responsible Risks: trying new things
  • Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations: accessing known information in new contexts
  • Thinking About Thinking (Metacognition): self awareness
  • Remaining Open to Continuous Learning: recognizing learning everywhere and for life.

Visible Thinking

Visible thinking is a research based approach from Harvard's Project Zero, that can be applied as a way to increase thoughtfulness and critical thinking while studying any subject matter. Researchers found that learning skills and developing abilities was not enough to create successful academic outcomes.  There is also a need to increase learners' willingness to think carefully and deeply about matters of substance, and develop a disposition towards thinking.  The Visible Thinking approach works by applying thinking activities and routines. These routines promote the "thinking ideals" of understanding, truth, fairness and creativity. By making thinking visible through the use of routines, learners become better able to explain things to one another and in this way to better understand and appreciate alternative points of view.  Thus learning, whether inside or outside of the traditional classroom, is made collaborative, interactive, personal and meaningful.  Some core thinking routines follow.  Click on the button below to explore the Visible Thinking website and see a free preview of Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagment, Understnading and Independence to All Learners, by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison.

  • See Think Wonder:  A routine for exploring thoughts, feelings and curiosity
  • What Makes You Say That?: a routine to encourage interpretation and justification
  • Think Puzzle Explore:  a routine that encourages deeper inquiry
  • Think Pair Share: a routine for active reasoning and explanation 
  • Circle of Viewpoints: a routine that promotes exploring diverse perspectives
  • I used to Think... Now I think...: a routine for considering ways that our thinking changes over time
  • Compass Points A routine for examining propositions

Click on the image above or link below  to purchase my book on

Habits of Mind for Homeschoolers: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.

The book gives more detailed information on the Habits of Mind, some personal stories and strategies, and numerous activities for younger and older children in each chapter for encouraging the habits through creative and critical thinking communicative activities.