What's H.O.T.?

What’s H.O.T.?



The Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development (formerly the Connecticut Commission on the Arts) named Columbus Magnet School a H.O.T. School in 2000. H.O.T. (Higher Order Thinking) Schools use learning in, about, and through the arts as a key pathway to developing higher order thinking skills in students. The H.O.T. Schools Program provides each of its participating schools with resident artists, curriculum development grants, technical assistance, workshops, Principals’ Retreats, peer sessions, and an annual, week-long Summer Institute.


H.O.T. practices and strategies stimulate student curiosity, ignite their sense of wonder, empower students so they feel invested in their school and their learning, and steer students toward a journey of life-long learning. Students who attend a H.O.T. School enjoy numerous outlets for expression and for reinforcement of the intrinsic value of their thoughts. H.O.T. School teachers work collaboratively to structure interdisciplinary curricula that promote deep learning of subject matter, higher order thinking, creativity and teamwork by strategically linking learning in the arts to learning across the curriculum. H.O.T. Schools cultivate a democratic school culture to which all members of the school community contributes and in which individual leadership is emphasized.


Characteristics of H.O.T. Schools

H.O.T. Schools integrate the arts across disciplines, creating arts-rich environments that motivate students to make connections between and among subject areas and ideas. In H.O.T. Schools, the arts stimulate student learning, improve the culture and climate of schools, and inspire the professional development of educators, and intentionally engage parents in the process.


H.O.T. Strategies

  • Teaching Artist Collaborations partner teaching artists with extraordinary skills in one particular arts discipline: dance, theater, visual arts, music, or creative writing with teachers whose extraordinary skill resides in their content knowledge and understanding of certain strategies for transmitting that knowledge to students. Together the team forges a collaborative partnership to design authentic arts-integrated learning opportunities for students through which students apply higher order thinking processes of imagining, decision making, creating, performing, and responding.


  • All School Meetings (Town Meeting) develop community and provide a forum to showcase student learning. Students are given the opportunity to present their learning-in-progress to the larger school community in creative, interesting, and artful ways. Through All School Meeting, students also gain confidence performing and presenting in front of an audience.


  • ECHOs (Enhanced Curricula HOT Opportunities), outwardly resemble student “clubs,” but provide students with opportunities to apply their interests, knowledge, thinking skills, and creative ideas to self-selected problems or areas of study.


  • Democracy. H.O.T. Schools celebrate the “voice” of the child not only through the arts, but also through student government. By demonstrating to children that they can communicate powerfully through words, images, movements, and sounds, we enhance their sense of social efficacy. H.O.T. Schools features strong student governments where students articulate their needs in compelling language to address real issues that bear importance in their lives and in the lives of their peers.


  • Parent Partners are a critical element of the H.O.T. Schools team. Parents are invited to participate in professional development opportunities alongside teachers and become advocates for arts education.