Thinking Skills

Issaquah's focus on thinking skills

A key focus for educators in Issaquah is our students' thinking skills, as high level thinking is critical for success in life especially in the 21st century. The importance of explicitly teaching thinking skills, engaging students in articulating their thinking processes, and posing rigorous critical-thinking questions for students to consider is an emphasis in each content area.

Thinking skills and thinking habits provide the foundation for student learning in our rapidly changing digital world. We have defined and prioritized twenty thinking skills and eight thinking habits to be explicitly taught to our students, depending on the grade level and background knowledge of the learners. These thinking skills are listed on our Thinking Habits and Skills poster. The eight thinking habits shown on the poster identify behaviors that support students in learning, completing tasks and in being self-directed. As Art Costa states in "Discovering and Exploring Habits of Mind, "They are behaviors we exhibit reliably on appropriate occasions, and they are smoothly triggered without painstaking attention."

Teachers can promote thinking in their classrooms by posing questions such as:

  • What makes you think that?
  • What evidence do you have for your position?
  • What strategy did you use? Can you explain the steps you used?
  • What other methods might you try?
  • How would you explain this to someone else?
  • Help us understand your perspective…
  • How might you describe the author's message in this text?

Employers are seeking employees who are the most competent, persistent, creative, and innovative candidates. Students need to be effective communicators and effective problem-solvers. The importance we are placing on thinking skills and habits will serve our students well for college, careers and life experiences.

How parents can help their students

The Parent Resource page has suggestions and resources to help parents support the development of thinking skills at home through the questions they ask, the family activities they do and by reinforcing thinking behaviors.


Leading psychologists and educators in a number of fields including math, science, social studies … agree that it is particularly important for children to learn how to learn. —Donald Graves and Virginia Stuart

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