Designing Effective Projects : Beliefs and Attitudes
Teaching Beliefs and Attitudes

Teaching Habits of Mind
Almost any project provides an opportunity for teaching Habits of Mind. Emphasizing a different habit with each project gives learners and teachers an understanding of the vocabulary necessary for communicating about the beliefs and attitudes that promote good thinking. 

Habits of Mind

Instructional Strategies


  • Model how you work through academic challenges, such as reading a difficult book or completing a complex project. 
  • Emphasize the long-term benefits of an activity rather than the immediate gratification, what they’ll get out of a project rather than how fun it is. 
  • Teach strategies for coping with challenges, such as thinking of alternative courses of action.

Managing Impulsivity

  • Provide scaffolding through software, group activities, and checklists to help learners analyze problems and plan projects carefully before beginning to work on them. 
  • Draw connections between quality products and thoughtful processes.

Listening to Others with Understanding and Empathy

  • Teach active listening strategies. 
  • Have learners reflect on what they have learned from their peers. 
  • Create an environment where learners take pride in group accomplishments.

Thinking Flexibly

  • Model changing your mind about an issue after learning more information about it. 
  • Teach strategies for generating multiple solutions and taking multiple perspectives about problems.


  • Provide scaffolding such as checklists to help learners in planning and monitoring their work. 
  • Ask learners to discuss the thinking strategies they are using with their peers. 
  • Prompt learners to think about their thinking processes at various points during work on a project.

Striving for Accuracy and Precision

  • Provide learners with a variety of high-quality models and point out what makes each model excellent. 
  • Co-develop rubrics for evaluating projects. 
  • Provide tools to help learners evaluate their own work according to established criteria.

Questioning and Posing Problems

  • Model curiosity about academic topics. 
  • Provide opportunities and tools to support questioning. 
  • Highlight and praise exemplary learner questioning.

Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations

  • Explain new concepts in terms of familiar ones. 
  • Ask learners to draw connections between their experiences and what they are learning. 
  • Use comparative language such as metaphors and analogies to explain new concepts, and encourage learners to do the same to describe their understanding.

Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision

  • Share examples of good writing and speaking in the subject that learners are studying, such as good science writing or good statistical explanations. 
  • Model both giving and using feedback to improve a project. 
  • Teach learners effective strategies for evaluating their own writing and speaking and for responding constructively to the communications of others.

Gathering Data through All Senses

  • Provide opportunities for learners to think about subjects in non-conventional ways, such as movement in math or music in science.

Creating, Imagining, and Innovating

  • Have a variety of materials and equipment available. 
  • Expose learners to a wide range of creative products. 
  • Set an example by thinking creatively yourself and sharing your products, your processes, and your joy in your accomplishments.

Responding with Wonderment and Awe

  • Take learners out of the classroom for mini-field trips in the neighbourhood, and encourage them to notice things that interest them. 
  • Share those things related to academic subjects that move you.

Taking Responsible Risks

  • Minimize the consequences of failure when learners take academic risks. 
  • Create an environment in which trying new things is rewarded even when the results may not be what you wish.

Finding Humour

  • Discuss the appropriate use of humour in the classroom. 
  • Design instructional activities which allow learners to use humour to accomplish academic tasks. 
  • Create an environment that is relaxed and encourages learners to play with language and events in humourous ways.

Thinking Interdependently

  • Teach specific skills for working with others such as active listening, building on others’ ideas, and drawing out quiet group members. 
  • Take notes while learners are working in small groups and summarize the good and bad things that you noticed in a class discussion. 
  • Teach learners strategies for working through problems whenever possible instead of intervening. 
  • Highlight the accomplishments of successful groups and point out the strategies they used to work well together.

Learning Continuously

  • Share your enthusiasm for beginning new tasks and learning new skills, and invite community members into the classroom to tell about their experiences at lifelong learning. 
  • Recognize learners’ efforts to go above and beyond learning activities. 
  • Provide suggestions for activities that enhance what learners are learning.


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