Habits of Mind : Part Three

Part 3 of 4 of the Habits of Mind! Parts 1 can be found here, and 2 can be found here.

Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision

“A word to the wise is not sufficient if it doesn’t make sense.” – James Thurber

This habit actually has two different sides to the same coin; on the one side, students need to know how to write legibly and be able to speak so others can hear and follow what they say. On the other side, they also need to be able to get what’s in their head out on paper or out in words. I have seen students who can say exactly what they want out loud, but putting it on paper is challenging, and students who write brilliantly but have trouble speaking even in small groups. In higher grades, more of the focus on this habit is on being precise in what you say and avoiding vagueness and generalizations.

Sadly, being in middle school, we don’t have much time to focus on legible handwriting, but I have returned students work asking them to slow down because I can’t read their handwriting. I let them know that I work on my handwriting as well, and I allow my students to let me know when my writing gets hard to read. I always have opportunities where students are expected to share their thoughts to the class and small groups. I have even implemented a ‘chip’ rule to push students to use their three chips to speak, and for those who like to talk too much, to think before they waste them. I also do not tolerate any teasing when it comes to public speaking. Public speaking isn’t as easy for everyone as it may be for someone else. We need to be patient and understanding. As for writing, I had the chance to work with students from another class that had fallen behind on their bloguments (about 2 weeks late at that point), and saw that many of these kids could articulate what they wanted to say to me. They had trouble gettin