21st Century Skills and the Habits of Mind~



As we work our way through this century, a set of skills known as 21st Century Skills has become prevalent in education. They are the skills that have been deemed important for students to acquire and use as they enter the workforce and their adult lives. There are many 21st century skills, but the focus is on critical thinking, creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration. It is highly likely that many of the jobs that our young people will have in their adult years have yet to be created. Therefore, rather than train children how to do particular work, it is vital that we train them to be able to learn any type of work. That's where the 21st century skills enter the educational process. By gaining the 21st century skills, our students will be able to do any job that presents itself and become successful members of society. The skills are designed to have students solve complex problems and conflicts where the resolution is not readily apparent. The ability to collaborate with others on those conflicts and communicate the solution is highly important. The collaboration may involve people from all over the world and from different cultures. Therefore, technology is an integral aspect of 21st century skills. The process of developing the kind of thinking that is needed is important. One set of processes that provide a nice framework for developing that thinking is Habits of Mind.


Habits of Mind are dispositions or attitudes that reflect the necessary skillful behaviors that students need in order to become thoughtful in their learning and throughout their lives. The habits are designed to provide a framework for learning how to solve problems, create and innovate, communicate clearly and collaborate with others. There are sixteen Habits of Mind, currently, and they each have an icon to assist students in remembering them.


In room 15, the Habits of Mind are taught through the curriculum. We then discuss how those habits relate to the lives of students. As we work in the classroom, we discuss the dispositions that are being used and will be needed as we take on our own challenges. Hopefully, those dispositions will actually become habits for the students which will allow them to better think and solve problems in the 21st century.


The 16 Habits of Mind identified by Art Costa and Bena Kallick include:

  • Persisting
  • Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
  • Managing impulsivity
  • Gathering data through all senses
  • Listening with understanding and empathy
  • Creating, imagining, innovating
  • Thinking flexibly
  • Responding with wonderment and awe
  • Thinking about thinking (metacognition)
  • Taking responsible risks
  • Striving for accuracy
  • Finding humor
  • Questioning and posing problems
  • Thinking interdependently
  • Applying past knowledge to new situations
  • Remaining open to continuous learning


The students have notebooks in their desks that the class will use all year long. Each of the 21st Century Skills is noted. The Habits of Mind are also in the notebook with a mini-poster for each habit. The notebooks will be used extensively through the year as a framework for the type of work we will do in fourth grade.


Click the links below for the mini-posters that the students have in their notebooks.

Persisting and Managing Impulsivity
Taking Responsible Risks and Finding Humor
Listening with Empathy and Thinking Flexibly
Thinking about Thinking and Striving for Accuracy
Thinking Interdependently and Open to Continuous Learning
Creating, Imagining and Innovating and Responding with Wonderment and Awe
Questioning and Posing Problems and Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision and Gathering Data Through All Senses


Click here for more information about the Habits of Mind



to Philosophies, Details and Links