Life-Long Habits of Mind: Curriculum for Customized Learning

Districts in the Customized Learning Consortium have expanded their curriculum model beyond simply content knowledge. Lesson planning and unit development happens at the intersection of Content Knowledge, Complex Reasoning, and Life-Long Habits of Mind. Life-Long Habits of Mind is the third domain of our curriculum model.

The Life-Long Habits of Mind curriculum is where Customized Learning schools will be addressing the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students, built around foundational work, such as the Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets. All students must be guided in developing the “soft skills” that are so often left dormant in our populations (e.g. resilience, self-confidence, mental toughness).

Districts in the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning are working with Bea McGarvey to create a Life-Long Habits of Mind curriculum.

Educators collaborating on this writing effort, will create teacher materials for Life-Long Habits of Mind in a similar format to the Dimensions of Learning: Teacher's Manual, used for the Complex Reasoning curriculum. Also as with the Complex Reasoning curriculum, instruction in the Habits will progress from helping students develop an understanding of the “habit” through examples, to providing students with written guidelines and graphic organizers, and then to lots of modeling. Once the teacher materials are developed, the curriculum may be organized into the Marzano curriculum framework, to facilitate the tracking of students' development of thes skills.

The current draft outline of the Life-Long Habits of Mind curriculum includes the following:


Reflective Learner (Understanding Oneself)

  • Understanding One’s Learning Style
  • Cultivating Creativity & Imagination
  • Maintaining a Growth Mindset
  • Responding Appropriately to Feedback


Self-Directed Learner (Improving Oneself)

  • Meeting Quality Standards
  • Persevering
  • Setting and Monitoring Goals
  • Managing Impulsivity


Collaborative Worker (Working with Others)

  • Working Toward Team Goals
  • Listening With Understanding/Empathy
  • Seeking To Be Understood
  • Seeking to Resolve Conflicts

This approach of looking at the intersection of Content Knowledge, Complex Reasoning, and Life-Long Habits of Mind allows student to not only master critical academic content but to also develop skills and traits important to career and life readiness, such as goal-setting, teamwork, perseverance, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and problem-solving.


4 thoughts on “Life-Long Habits of Mind: Curriculum for Customized Learning

  1. Jay Collier

    Adding habits of mind to content knowledge, and reasoning skills one of the most exciting facets of learner-centered education. Here are a few other resources.

    The original Habits of Mind paper by Costa and Kallick is a great introduction:

    Click to access 16HOM.pdf

    Also, the Search Institute’s Sparks curriculum provides guidance for championing young people, whether you are a teacher, parent, or community mentor.

    We integrated that curriculum into a Leadership Maine project in 2011, connecting student passions with high-demand jobs in Maine:

    Keep up the great work, Mike and colleagues!


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  3. Jill Spencer

    I’ve like the habits of the mind concept since reading an article by Deborah Meier years ago because it aligned so well with my middle level philosophy. The language the Cohort is using seems to be help folks internalize the concept and then create mental maps that allow them to apply the ideas in authentic ways.

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