Supporting Thinking Through Cognitive CoachingSM

Welcome Back!  We hope you are off to the start of a wonderful school year!  The eMINTS National Center has been hard at work all summer long preparing learning opportunities for you!

Image used with permission.

We are excited to be hosting another eight day Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Cognitive CoachingSM  Model helps produce self-directed individuals.  Here is what people have said after attending the Cognitive CoachingSM  Foundations Seminar-

  • “Coming into CC, I thought I would really struggle with the purpose of coaching being to take the coachee where he/she wanted to go… I thought it would be difficult to let go of where I wanted him/her to go.  Throughout the trainings though, my thinking changed with my experiences. The trainings were totally engaging to me and really affected the way I view myself as a leader and even as a conversationalist.  My expectations were more than exceeded!”
  • “Cognitive CoachingSM  has made me a better listener. I have to really practice holding back my own thoughts and opinions during a conversation and remember that the conversation is about helping the other person to think, not about getting my ideas in the air.”
  • “The knowledge and skills that are learned in the 8 day Foundations Seminar can be applied in all aspects of personal and professional life. The tools and experience are worth the time and money spent attending training.”

The dates for the upcoming St. Louis Foundations Seminar are:
September 26 and 27, 2012
October 24 and 25, 2012
November 28 and 29, 2012
January 16 and 17, 2013

The Foundations Seminar is a great professional development opportunity for all instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, and anyone interested in improving their communication skills to support others in planning, reflecting, and problem-resolving. Participants who attend the eight-day seminar will be a certified Cognitive CoachSM.

To learn more and register for the seminar go to http://www.emints.org/professional-development/other-pd/cognitive-coaching/

Space is limited so register today!

Brooke Higgins, Carmen Marty, and Terri Brines are Instructional Specialist, Cognitive CoachingSM Agency Trainers, and bloggers for the eMINTS National Center.

eMINTS Announces St. Louis Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar

eMINTS is excited to announce the next round of the Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar to take place in St. Louis, MO beginning in September 2012.

The 8-day professional development series is tailored to anyone that wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies and techniques to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem.

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The seminar is split into four 2-day sessions lasting from 8:30am-4:00pm each day.

Days Dates
Days 1-2 September 26 & 27, 2012
Days 3-4 October 24 & 25, 2012
Days 5-6 November 28 & 29, 2012
Days 7-8 January 16 & 17, 2013

Cognitive CoachingSM – a research-based model – encourages the process of decision-making to achieve goals through metacognition. The seminar will be facilitated by Brooke Higgins, Carmen Marty, and Terri Brines, certified Agency Trainers of Cognitive Coaching.

Learn all the details and registration online now at the eMINTS website. Sign up now to hold your spot in this amazing professional development opportunity.

Brooke Higgins is an Instructional Specialist, Cognitive Coaching Facilitator, and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Friday 4ALL: Building Self-Directedness in Students

Decisions Decisions

A few weeks ago we looked at ways to promote self-directedness within ourselves.  We shared thoughts about developing your own PLN (personal learning network) to promote your personal growth and development.  With the school year just around the corner, you may be thinking, “What might my classroom look like with self-directed students? What positive outcomes might we experience if students learned how to be more self monitoring, managing, and modifying?”

Imagine a classroom were students are self-directed with their learning, behavior, and thoughts?  As a teacher, how might you play  role in and promote self-directedness in the classroom?

Encouraging students to be a part of the process when creating classroom norms is one way teachers can promote self-directedness.  Allowing students to reflect on what they need to do to be a successful learner and member of their classroom community is another way to support students in the process of learning to be self-monitoring and modifying.  How might reflecting on experiences from the previous school year assist them with identifying the past way they learn?  What they need to be successful in a group?  What strategies do you envision using to assist students with creating and being respectful of group norms?

Another area for promoting self-directedness comes in the form of assessment.  Helping students create learning plans based on a pre-assessment of knowledge helps them be realistic about what they know and what direction they may want to focus their learning on.  When working on long term projects, allow students to be part of the creation of the scoring guide developing descriptors for what makes a good product/project.  Another idea is to present students with the standards or objectives for a project and ask them what the learning criteria should be.  You can also present students with a rubric that is partially filled out perhaps with the descriptors in place and have students work in groups to decide what an excellent project would look like vs a needs improvement project. Through self-assessment students learn to look at their work with a critical eye, they reflect, and make decisions about their learning all the while giving them the opportunity to learn the skills needed to be self-directed.  Self-assessment encourages students to take pride in their work.  For additional ideas on a variety of ways to assess with students check out the Intel Assessing Projects, Intel’s Library of Assessments, a tool for creating assessments of 21st century learning. An account is required but it is free and easy to set up. Once you have an account you will have  access to the application which includes pre-made assessments as well as a tool to create your own customized assessments to meet the needs of your unique students. Watch this video to see how it works.

Another resource you may want to consider is Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick’s Habits of Mind. Habits of Mind are 16 characteristics to help students be successful.  The Habits of Mind provide guidelines for working successfully and interacting with others.  Teaching students the Habits of Mind and then asking students to identify Habits they might draw upon or need to complete classroom projects successfully can help them become thoughtful learners.  Students also become reflective and self-directed as they use the 16 Habits to navigate problems and challenges in the classroom in an appropriate manner.

As the school year draws near, you might take some time to revisit the Hallmarks of an Effective eMINTS Classroom, a matrix that can outline the progression of changes in teaching practice often observed as teachers complete eMINTS Professional Development. The Hallmarks can be used to assess where a classroom is and can even be used to set goals for teachers, students and classroom community. An Effective eMINTS Classroom promotes students being self-directed and as your classroom transforms into a Constructivist Learning environment, it is imperative to encourage your students to self-modify, self-monitor, and self-direct.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Bert Werk (Photographer). (2007). Vijfsprong/forked road/crossroad. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bertwerk/2821951515/

Thursday’s Tip: Supporting Self-Directedness

Self-Directed – “Directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent”

When you think about it, we all want to be self-directed.  We want the ability and freedom to guide ourselves; to make choices based on a sound thought process, and the independence to tailor learning, thinking, and life to our own style and needs.   Being teachers, we also strive to achieve that same ability and desire in our students.  We want them to be self-directed with their thoughts, learning, and life.  Our biggest obstacle is: How do we achieve self-directedness in ourselves and our students?  As we first focus on ourselves for this post, there are several ways to move towards becoming self-directed.  With summer here, we can take some time and explore possible avenues to help meet that goal.


We might consider the development of our own Personal Learning Network (PLN) through blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.  We can choose the ones that allow us to develop skills, learn about new technologies, explore teaching strategies, see a variety of perspectives, and learn about educational issues affecting not only ourselves but the world.  A variety of tools and media allows us to develop a PLN that fits our individual learning styles as well as connect to the global education community where we can gain and share new learning.

Another way to move towards becoming a self-directed individual is through the organization of our thought process.  We have discussed in previous posts ways to reflect and plan.  We can implement these skills in almost any situation and in everything we do.  We can ask ourselves questions to develop a plan, and then once the event is over, reflect on ways to continue or improve what we did. This can include the setting of goals and monitoring the follow through of those goals.   As we take these pieces of planning and reflecting and internalize the process, we move ourselves closer to becoming a more self-directed person.

So some questions that could support you in becoming more self-directed that you might want to consider are:

  • What goals might you have for yourself in becoming self-directed?
  • What might be some strategies you can use to develop your ability to be self-directed?
  • What learning styles and preferences in yourself do you need to consider in becoming self-directed?

Taking the steps in becoming more self-directed may seem small but can have a powerful impact on how we approach and handle life.  As the Australian song reminds us – “From little things, big things grow” – Paul Kelly

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

mathplourde (Photographer). (2007). My PLN Banner. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/4618916837/

Friday 4ALL: What is Cognitive Coaching?

Over the past month the Networked Teaching & Learning blog has published a handful of posts referencing Cognitive CoachingSM. Some of you might be wondering what Cognitive CoachingSM is and why eMINTS is talking about it.

The Center for Cognitive CoachingSM defines Cognitive CoachingSM as a “research-based model that capitalizes upon and enhances teachers’ cognitive processes with a mission to produce self-directed individuals.” They further explain that self-directed individuals know how to self-monitor, self-modify, and self manage independently and as members of a community. They offer the metaphor of Cognitive CoachingSM is like a stagecoach not a baseball coach. Coaching is a way to get from here to there but not someone that knows what is best and tells you what to do. Coaching helps an individual go from where they are to where they want to be.  As a coach, you help your coachee plan, reflect, and problem resolve.  A coach supports thinking and empower’s a coachee.

So why is eMINTS interested in Cognitive CoachingSM…. What we believe is that coaching makes perfect sense as a tool for those affiliated with eMINTS to achieve what we have identified as outcomes for eMINTS classrooms. Cognitive CoachingSM is yet another tool that can serve as scaffolding for our staff, facilitators, teachers, and students in a hope to help them become self-directed, resourceful, and life-long learners. eMINTS and The Center for Cognitive CoachingSM both value supporting instructional change, purposeful lesson design, enhanced thinking, and building a community of learners.

The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem.

Check out the eMINTS website events page for information on attending if you are interested improving your skills as a coach and mediator of thinking and plan on attending the Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar hosted by The eMINTS National Center. The seminar consists of 8 days of high quality professional development focused on learning communication tools and conversation structures you can use as a coach to support others thinking. We will be starting the next round of trainings in early September. Get signed up now to reserve your seat.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and upcoming related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

arbyreed (Photographer). (2007). Stagecoach Wheel. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/2785101089/ - used with permission under the Creative Commons license.

Friday 4All: Planning For Next Year

Whew! The school year is over. We collapse in our favorite comfy chair, put our feet up, and relax with not a care in the world except how to spend our summer vacation.  We put school and planning in the back corner of our minds not to emerge again until August.   All the while humming to ourselves the old Alice Cooper song; School’s Out.

Who are we kidding?  We’re teachers.  We never truly stop thinking about our past school year and the new school year coming up.  We are constantly refining our skills as educators and as soon as one year is complete we start planning for the next year.

Planning is a crucial piece of the education process.  We can analyze past challenges and successes to build for the future.  We work on our skills as educators identifying our strengths and planning how to strengthen our weaknesses.  We seek out professional development opportunities and organize our thoughts, strategies, and time so that our students receive the best education they can possibly have.

In a previous post, we shared some possible reflection questions to help you identify what you have learned from the year and how you might apply those new learning’s to future situations.  Now we continue on from that reflective process and move into the planning process.  Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look ahead to the upcoming school year.

  • As you think about the new students entering your classroom, what might be some of the goals you want to focus on?
  • What might be some ways that you will know that you are successful?
  • What might be some strategies you are considering?
  • What will guide your decisions about these strategies?
  • What criteria might you use to determine which are most beneficial?
  • How might these strategies support student learning in other areas?
  • What do you want to make sure that you do very well in this new school year and how might you know you are doing it?
  • How might you incorporate this thinking process in other areas?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and upcoming related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

sntgmdm (Photographer). (2007). Twyfelfontein Binoculars. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotos_medem/3399096196/

Thursday’s Tip: Projects to Encourage Student Reflection

In our previous post, Helping Students Learn Through Reflection, we shared questioning strategies to engage students in reflective thinking as a way to transfer learning beyond subject areas and beyond the walls of the classroom and shared some online tools that might facilitate those conversations.

On a daily basis eMINTS teachers craft lessons that ask students to think about and address real-world problems. By embedding reflective activities into those lessons, students can have authentic opportunities to learn from their experiences and then be able to apply that learning to new situations.

Some projects teachers may want to plan into classroom lessons to facilitate reflection could be using portfolios, journals, surveys, and even multimedia projects.

Portfolios that include students selecting items to showcase their learning and then reflecting on why they chose those items will require students to evaluate their learning and possibly set future learning goals. Weebly for Education, an online application for creating websites and blogs, is an option for creating student portfolios. Students can include video, images, and files by uploading them to their site which can even be password protected.

Reflection journals, with daily prompts or a scoring guide, can purposefully direct reflection and allow students to be constantly growing. You might use a blog post with students commenting on reflective questions or have students make posts to individual blogs. Check out WordPress, EduBlogs, or Weebly for Education to create class and/or individual student blogs.

Using surveys can help students monitor their progress over time by responding with both qualitative and quantitative data that could even be charted and analyzed for personal growth. Google Docs allows for creation of survey’s that can be completed by learners. The data is automatically compiled in a spreadsheet and could possibly be turned into charts or graphs for easy analysis.

Creating multimedia projects is another way that students can reflect on what they have learned at the culmination of a unit or project such as a WebQuest.  Some ways you might use technology to put this into practice could be creating still or action movies using iMovie, Movie Maker, Animoto, or even VoiceThread which can add collaboration.

As you consider using these and other types of projects to facilitate thinking and reflection, you might think about:

  • How could your learners become more self-directed through individual and/or group reflection?
  • What might they gain from the reflection process?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

~*Dawn*~ (Photographer). (2007). Reflections on the Stream. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturesdawn/1283502759/

Thursday’s Tip: Helping Students Learn Through Reflection

River reflection day

As teachers, we value the time for reflection, but how do we teach our students the value of reflection?   Each day our classroom is filled with learning experiences.  Our students need time to reflect on their work as an individual and as a group.  This reflection will help them transfer life skills beyond the walls of the classroom.

There are many ways we can help students reflect.  One way to promote deep reflection is in the questions we ask.  Here is a list of tips to help create reflective questions:

  • Begin your questions with a positive presupposition-As you reflect, when you planned your project etc.  These stems presume that as a learner is reflective, did plan etc.
  • Use tentative language to open up thinking-How might, What are some things etc.  Tentative language makes the questions less threatening. Tentative language lets students know there is more than one correct answer.
  • Use verbs that access high cognitive process levels-As you compare this experience to a past one,  If you were the audience member, (another perspective) Asking questions from the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy gives students opportunities to process, think, and create deep answer.
  • Ask question with intention to explore thinking or specify thinking

Students love to be published and often times are more motivated when using electronic tools for reflection.  Here is a short list of tools you might use to assist students with reflecting:

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Tanakawho (Photographer). (2007). River Reflection Day. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/28481088@N00/2112377904/

Monday’s Message: May 2, 2011

With the big news last night, many of you are probably still buzzing or are dragging from having to stay up so late for the President’s announcement. Either way, the week and month are ready to commence. Here are a few news items from the eMINTS National Center:

  • Professional Development for Educational Technology Specialists (PD4ETS): If your district (either in Missouri or out-of-state) is planning to send someone to participate in Year 1 of the PD4ETS program beginning this summer, please email eMINTS. We are trying to assess the level of potential interest in the program so that we can plan accordingly. Several districts have already contacted us and we want to see where other possible participants may be located. For more information about PD4ETS, see our website at: http://www.emints.org/programs/pd4ets/index.shtml or call us at 573-884-7202. This is not a commitment, just a check point for planning purposes.
  • Ever wish you could communicate more effectively with the people you supervise, work with or train? Do you find it challenging to help people solve complicated problems they are facing or to change how they are teaching or working with others? The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar® is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem. Cognitive CoachingSM – a research-based model – encourages the process of decision-making to achieve goals through metacognition. If you are interested in learning more about supporting people in becoming self directed please visit http://www.emints.org/programs/cognitivecoaching/index.shtml to learn more about our Fall 2011 Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar.
  • eThemes Featured on Kathy Schrock Site: Many of you know of Kathy Schrock who is well-known for her website and blogs featuring great educational web resources. She placed eThemes on her SOS (Sites of the School Days) page: http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/sos.html It is number 35. This is great recognition for eThemes and the wonderful resources you can find there.

4ALL: Looking Back – Reflecting on the Year

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – James Levin

As teachers, we know and value the reflection process.  That time when we can think about what worked and what didn’t.  It’s a time to look critically at aspects of our year and make them a learning experience for our personal and professional growth; a way to think about how we can continue and/or change practices to meet the needs of our students.  Reflection is that piece that allows us to refine our skills and identify areas that we want to improve.  A way to develop effective action.  A true goal setting opportunity.

Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look back over the past year and assess your personal growth.

  • How did your year go and what makes you feel that way?
  • How did it go compared to what you thought might happen?
  • What things did you do that influenced the outcome of your year?
  • What skills, talents, and resources did you draw on to shape your learners?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • When might you apply your new learning in the future?
  • In what ways has this reflection supported your thinking and learning?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Tucker, L. (Photographer). (2010). Reflections!. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographygal123/4948968848/