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Ways of Teaching Thinking
An Introduction to Four Thinking-Centered Approaches
Ways of Thinking Contents

Effective thinking-centered instruction aims to achieve two educational objectives:

  1. To cultivate the active use of knowledge, and
  2. To help students become self-regulated learners.

Toward that end, this section of The Thinking Classroom highlights four thinking-centered approaches for infusing high-level thinking instruction into your regular curriculum. The Ways of Teaching Thinking region features a preview and description of each of the approaches.

Why These Four Approaches?

The four approaches to teaching thinking represent some of the research and products of the Harvard's Cognitive Skills Group. But more important, the four approaches together broadly attend to the core components of the instructional enterprise - from curriculum design, to implementation, to assessment. For instance, the Thinkpoint approach to teaching thinking centers on finding opportunities within the regular curriculum for students to think critically. Alternatively, teaching thinking through Thinking Dispositions focuses on the development of students' critical thinking skills and habits of mind. While each approach is distinct and could be adopted by teachers solely as a stand-alone pedagogy separate from the other three, it is likely you will draw on pieces from each approach to create your own unique culture of thinking in your own classroom.

Ways of Teaching Thinking: 4 Instructional Approaches

  • Thinking Through Thinkpoints - an approach that helps teachers and students identify generative topics or ideas within the curriculum and then encourages students to explore those topics in critical and creative ways.

  • Thinking Through Dispositions - an approach that aims to enrich and deepen understanding by cultivating not only students' thinking skills, but also their inclinations, attitudes, and habits of mind.

  • Thinking Through Transfer - an approach that aims to secure and deepen learning by activating and connecting students' knowledge to topics and subject areas both in and out of school.

  • Thinking Through Assessment - an approach that aims to improve thinking performances and deepen understanding through the design and employment of thinking-centered assessment.

    How to use the Ways of Thinking section

    1. Use this section to orient yourself with a number of approaches to improve student understanding and learning through the teaching of thinking.

    2. Use this section to get physically and mentally ready to learn about the teaching of thinking.

    3. Use this section to help activate prior knowledge about the teaching of thinking.

    4. Use this section as research resource. You'll find a theoretical and practical rationale behind each approach for teaching thinking.


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The Four Ways of Thinking

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© Al Andrade, Harvard Project Zero, 1999
The Thinking Classroom is based on the collective research
and ideas of the Cognitive Skills Group, Harvard Project Zero, 1999

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