Harvard Graduate School of Education | Project Zero

Artful Thinking

For more information, please see the Artful Thinking website.

Artful Thinking was developed in collaboration with the Traverse City, Michigan Area Public Schools (TCAPS). The program was one component of a larger TCAPS grant from the US Department of Education to develop a model approach for integrating art into regular classroom instruction. The purpose of the Artful Thinking Program was to help teachers regularly use works of visual art and music in their curriculum in ways that strengthen student thinking and learning.

The Artful Thinking program was designed to be used by the regular classroom teacher. The program focuses on experiencing and appreciating art, rather than making art. (Other components of the overarching DOE grant focus on art-making.) There are two broad goals of the program: (1) To help teachers create rich connections between works of art and curricular topics; and (2) to help teachers use art as a force for developing students’ thinking dispositions.
The program takes the image of an artist’s palette as its central metaphor. Typically, a palette is made up of a relatively small number of basic colors which can be used and blended in a great variety of ways. The artful thinking palette is comprised of 6 thinking dispositions which emphasize intellectual behaviors such as asking provocative questions, making careful observations, exploring multiple viewpoints, and reasoning with evidence. These 6 dispositions are developed through the use of "thinking routines." Thinking routines are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life. They are used flexibly and repeatedly--with art, and with a wide variety of topics in the curriculum, particularly in language arts and social studies.

Artful Thinking is part of Project Zero’s long history of work in the areas of thinking dispositions and visible thinking. The program is closely related to two recent Project Zero projects: Art Works for Schools, and Innovating with Intelligence.

Project Zero Staff:
    Patricia Palmer   
    Shari Tishman

|