Search This Blog

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Literacy Initiative Meets with Jay High School and Mt. Blue High School Teachers

On September 24, 2009 teachers from Jay and Mt. Blue met with me for the first time.  These teachers are the second cohort in both schools.  I wrote about cohort 1 teachers in my post on September 17.

The focus for the year will be integrating literacy/thinking strategies into their classrooms. They have had the advantage of participating in staff development provided by their peers last year, building common language and understandings around a core of strategies used throughout their schools and districts.

They are a great group.  Everyone of them had volunteered to participate!  The level of energy in the room was impressive.

Over the last few days I have been reflecting on the session.

We spent the first part of the session with "housekeeping."  During this time, we decided on the technology we would use during the course.  We chose the NING and then-as a group-figured out how to use it.  It took us a while, but we got it:)  As we moved forward as a team, we collaborated and each person worked independently, but as a team.
The collaboration this group created is exactly what we look for in our students.

Reflecting on the process, I kept coming back to Costa's Habits of the Mind.


(After Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, Habits of Mind: A Developmental Series, Copyright © 2000) 
The Habits of Mind are an identified set of 16 problem solving, life related skills, necessary to effectively operate in society and promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship.  The understanding and application of these 16 Habits of Mind serve to provide the individual with skills to work through real life situations that equip that person to respond using awareness (cues), thought, and intentional strategy in order to gain a positive outcome.

1. Persisting: Sticking to task at hand; Follow through to completion; Can and do remain focused.
2. Managing Impulsivity: Take time to consider options; Think before speaking or acting; Remain calm when stressed or challenged; Thoughtful and considerate of others; Proceed carefully.
3. Listening with Understanding and Empathy: Pay attention to and do not dismiss another person's thoughts, feeling and ideas; Seek to put myself in the other person's shoes; Tell others when I can relate to what they are expressing; Hold thoughts at a distance in order to respect another person's point of view and feelings.
4. Thinking Flexibly: Able to change perspective; Consider the input of others; Generate alternatives; Weigh options. 
5. Thinking about Thinking (Metacognition): Being aware of own thoughts, feelings, intentions and actions; Knowing what I do and say affects others; Willing to consider the impact of choices on myself and others.
6. Striving for Accuracy: Check for errors; Measure at least twice; Nurture a desire for exactness, fidelity & craftsmanship.
7. Questioning and Posing Problems: Ask myself, “How do I know?”; develop a questioning attitude; Consider what information is needed, choose strategies to get that information; Consider the obstacles needed to resolve.
8. Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations: Use what is learned; Consider prior knowledge and experience; Apply knowledge beyond the situation in which it was learned.
9. Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision: Strive to be clear when speaking and writing; Strive be accurate to when speaking and writing; Avoid generalizations, distortions, minimizations and deletions when speaking, and writing.
10. Gathering Data through All Senses: Stop to observe what I see; Listen to what I hear; Take note of what I smell; Taste what I am eating; Feel what I am touching. 
11. Creating, Imagining, Innovating: Think about how something might be done differently from the “norm”; Propose new ideas; Strive for originality; Consider novel suggestions others might make.
12. Responding with Wonderment and Awe: Intrigued by the world's beauty, nature's power and vastness for the universe; Have regard for what is awe-inspiring and can touch my heart; Open to the little and big surprises in life I see others and myself.
13. Taking Responsible Risks: Willing to try something new and different; Consider doing things that are safe and sane even though new to me; Face fear of making mistakes or of coming up short and don’t let this stop me.
14. Finding Humor: Willing to laugh appropriately; Look for the whimsical, absurd, ironic and unexpected in life; Laugh at myself when I can.
15. Thinking Interdependently
: Willing to work with others and welcome their input and perspective; Abide by decisions the work group makes even if I disagree somewhat; Willing to learn from others in reciprocal situations.

16. Remaining Open to Continuous Learning: Open to new experiences to learn from; Proud and humble enough to admit when don't know; Welcome new information on all subjects.

I have been thinking about Costa's work for sometime.  He believe intelligence is not a number
or a genetic trait so much as it is an approach to life - and it can be learned.  I agree.

As I watched this group, it again confirmed my belief that these habits need to be taught to our students.  The rub comes in two areas.

1. What if the teachers do not possess these traits?

2. Many of these traits are attittudes.  How do we teach them?

Throughout the year I will be writing about these habits and this group.

Please join us as we explore this process together.

Feel free to post comments.

1 comment:

Sherry Hooker said...

Jake, I'd like to follow up on our brain board conversation....