Habits of Mind and Their Connection to Formative Assessment

Habits of Mind and Their Connection to Formative AssessmentTerry Heick offered up yet another great blog post at TeachThought – 16 Strategies for Integrating the Habits of Mind in the Classroom. He certainly made the connection to outcomes-based learning, and many of the Habits of Mind he referenced are very connected to the practice of formative assessment.

Let’s take a look at those and how they’re connected to formative assessment:

1. Persisting – Student self-assessment and monitoring of their own progress, which for me relates to Royce Sadler’s (1989) comments about students having a concept of quality that was similar to the teacher, being able to compare their current level of performance to the standard and taking action to close the gap. Persisting to close the gap also helps teach students that taking risks is important to learning.

4. Thinking Flexibly – Teachers determining which techniques and how to use them in their classroom with their students – what formative assessment techniques will work best for each situation or group of students.

6. Striving for Accuracy and Precision – Activating peers as instructional resources for one another, such as Ask 3 Before Me. Here, students look to their fellow students before engaging with the teacher when working collaboratively and working to get things as complete and correct as possible.

7. Questioning and Posing Problems – Eliciting evidence is a two-way street – both students and teachers asking better questions and asking questions better help move learning targets forward.

8. Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations – Using question stems such as “What do you remember about . . . ?”, “When have you ever seen anything like this?” or “Tell me what you know about . . . ” Whether you consider this activating schema, prior knowledge, or simply getting students more comfortable and in tune with what they already know, it can be a huge boost to the learning process.

9. Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision – As students are activated as owners of their own learning, they get clear on their learning targets and where they are in relationship to those targets (Sadler). This clarity allows students to move from, “I don’t get math” to “I understand the Pythagorean theorem, but am having trouble with slope.” The use of academic language as well as students identifying their needs becomes more frequent.

10. Gathering Data Through All Senses – Data comes in a variety of forms and types. Helping students collect, organize, analyze and apply all data supports them as learners. Play allows students to “cite” sources from sensory data in addition to traditional textual sources. Also consider including the compelling use of such data in a rubric for formative assessment.

13. Taking Responsible Risks – The well-integrated use of formative assessment teaches students that an error is the opportunity to learn something new and once is sometimes not enough. This also supports the idea of “deliberate practice” from Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code.

15. Thinking Interdependently – When students are activated as instructional resources for one another, this interdependent thinking becomes more fluid and more frequent. The collaborative environment in the classroom blossoms.

16. Learning Continuously – Formative assessment provides students the opportunity to transform themselves from students into learners.

As Terry says in his blog…

The habits themselves aren’t new at all, and significant work has already been done in the areas of these “thinking habits.” However, in a 21st century learning environment — one often inundated with information, stimulation and connectivity — there may be a newfound context for their application 

How are you applying these habits of mind or other forms of formative assessment in your classroom environment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.