SHOMroom...that's right...SHOM practice in Homeroom

An ArtCore student's poem about their art world.

An ArtCore student's poem about their art world.

“How might refining your observation skills help you be a better artist? Writer? Scientist?”

“Was this more a pragmatic or creative solution?”

“What kinds of feedback help you engage and persist in your work?”

“What is the difference between prose and poetry?”

            These are questions ArtCore students have been grappling with in an effort to learn about the 8 Studio Habits of Mind (or SHOM, as we lovingly refer to them on a deep reverberating exhalation). Beginning in Fall as a collaboration between a middle school principal and an ArtCore weaver, one school decided to try introducing the SHOM to students through brief homeroom activities.

            Each Shomroom lesson focuses on one of the SHOM habits during a 20 minute period. The lessons generally begin with students generating a definition of the SHOM of the day, then transition to watching the related ArtCore artist profile video (or another video relevant to the curriculum). They conclude with a short hands-on exercise designed to open them to their learning. 

Here are some examples:

Azerbaijan's Heydar Aliiyev Centre by the late Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid (credit: Iwan Bann)

Azerbaijan's Heydar Aliiyev Centre by the late Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid (credit: Iwan Bann)

SHOMroom: Envision

Define “envision” as a class and then watch Kari Turner’s ArtCore video about her life as an architect. We discussed a few of the questions below after the video: 

  • Does architecture make people's lives better? How?
  • Did you know in kindergarten what you wanted to do? If yes, have your ideas changed? If no, do you have an idea now?
  • Is anyone interested in architecture? What do you think an architect does? Does an architect do anything besides design houses? What other problems might they need to solve?
  • Do you like helping people solve problems? What other careers might be good for you besides architecture? Is a creative problem solver different from a regular problem solver?
  • What is the difference between being creative and pragmatic? Which one are you?


  1. Design problem: Individually, draw a building that can house 500 people, 25 dogs, and 5 indoor pools. You have 10 minutes. Discuss your drawing with your table partner.
  2. Whose solutions are creative, pragmatic or both? How do you know?
  3. Did you draw what you first envisioned? What does envision mean to you after solving this problem?

Another example:

SHOMroom: Understand Our World

Define “understand art worlds” and “understand our world” before watching Alex Dang’s poetic ArtCore video. We discussed his technique for expressing himself through poetry and the art world of poetry.


  • Write 3-line poem about your “art world”. This is open-ended.
  • Volunteers share with class

Extension opportunity: (as adapted from

Watch the Birds in Snow video 

SHOMroom: Observe

Define “observe” and watch Mark Clarke’s video on painting. In the video, the late painter, Mark Clarke, explains the beauty of embracing the surprise in art and the wonder it brings to take time and stop observe the world around you.


  • Show slideshow of cropped pictures from a “road trip” (see our own example here. We encourage you to make your own to share with your students)
  • Flip through images every few seconds, and ask students to keep their thoughts to themselves until the second or third flip through. At that point, allow one student to share one guess for each image.
  • On the third or fourth time through, ask one student to make a guess about where the road tripper began and where they ended, citing evidence gathered through observation skills.
  • Finally, discuss how else we use our observation skills in class and outside of school- vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

            The best part about a SHOMroom is that it can easily be adapted to your class’ needs. Perhaps tests are coming up and you want to take extra time talking about “engage and persist” or you want to begin a Friday “reflection” time to end the week thoughtfully. SHOMrooms don’t have to be held during the first part of the day, either. They can replace or add to your warm up, fit in after lunch to help students refocus or even round out the day. Maybe you implement SHOMroom Fridays — it’s your choice. Like other thinking strategies and habits, the SHOM take practice. Recent research shows that some mindfulness skills, especially good observation, may lead to future creative performance. The SHOM can fit in during everyday learning and brief bursts of SHOM can help you and your team utilize a common language that helps motivate students to be critical and original thinkers. Now its your turn...what would your ideal SHOMroom lesson be?  

Check out our supporting teacher's guide here for the three listed above and look for new SHOMroom activities as we add them to our resource page.