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The Habits of Mind in the Essentials Curriculum

Posted by Derek Butterton on Thursday, November 19, 2020

One exciting feature of the Engineering and Computer Science Essentials curriculum is a set of resources focused on the EiE Habits of Mind. Today, we’ll examine two of those resources: Lesson-Specific Habits and Habits of Mind Discussion Prompts.

Lesson-Specific Habits 

Although the EiE team has identified 19 Habits of Mind for engineering and computer science, we certainly don’t expect students to practice (or educators to focus on) all 19 in every lesson. Instead, at the start of each lesson, we identify two or three Habits that are especially important for that lesson and explain how students are likely to display them.

Habits of Mind...Students Display

This approach allows educators to focus on a few specific skills during each activity, while letting them know what to look for and what kinds of behavior to encourage. 

We also start each description with the words “Young engineers” (in engineering units) and “Young programmers” (in computer science units). We use this language to remind educators of the power of addressing students as practitioners in these fields, which can build confidence and help students to see themselves as problem solvers.  


Habits of Mind Discussion Prompts 

A great way for students to practice the Habits of Mind is through conversation. To help educators facilitate these conversations, we’ve created a list of discussion prompts for the Habits of Mind.

habits of mind...wight the implications

Each Habit features a list of questions, which educators can use in several different ways: 

as prompts for whole-class discussion

as prompts for small-group discussion

as printed student resources 

However they are used, these prompts help students practice the kind of reasoning that engineers and computer scientists use every day. 

Each section also features a detailed description of the ways students might apply that Habit. This overview helps educators know what behaviors to look for and encourage as students talk and work. 


How Do You Use the Habits? 

Now that we’ve explored the EiE Habits of Mind, we want to hear from you! How do you use the Habits of Mind list? Are there certain Habits you find especially important? Let us know in the comments below! 

Derek Butterton

Derek Butterton is a curriculum developer at EiE, where he creates engineering and computer science resources for classrooms, out-of-school-time programs, and families. He is especially interested in the history and use of Habits of Mind. When not at work, he enjoys playing board games and spending time outdoors.

Written by Derek Butterton

Topics: Engineering Habits of Mind, EiE Teaching Tips, Create a Generation of Problem Solvers, Computer Science

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