Making Thinking Visible, CH 3


Our commissioner of education @DrSPruitt made a comment at TAC meeting that really rung true for me.  My paraphrase, in pre-service training, we “learn” a lot – hear a lot of theories, names – but its not until we are in a situation that we actually value that information,  that we truly understand – have a need for it when we may develop an appreciation for the idea.

I think I even heard him say Vygotsky in there somewhere – again, a name I heard many, many years ago – I was even assessed on his theories in EdPsych, but the name has popped up on my radar multiple times this summer – which makes me wonder if I go back and review – what ideas will I see that I should focus more on in my planning for learning opportunities?

Anyway, my point being – whether we call them literacy strategies, thinking routines or some other fancy label – the goal is the same.  We want students to dig below the surface, interact with the information, grapple with it, process and make sense in a way that connects to their world and gather an understanding on a level beyond the sit, get, assess and forget.

As I reviewed Chapter 3 – an Introduction to Thinking Routines, I realized some things I missed years ago.  The layout of the book was structured in such a way, one could utilize strategies from each section while planning for units.  They have been categorized to allow for thinking early in a unit, middle of the unit and finally, as a culminating task to help connect all of the learning.  I see this as a help for me – to use the chart, find a routine that will amplify the type of thinking I want my students to do and create an opportunity for students to interact with the information / skill development.

The analogy to use the routines to create an arc of learning rather than a single episode – will help me to focus on running a thread through the unit to better support continued learning and connections for my students.

I believe it may be an overwhelming task for teachers who are not yet in the mode of listening to their students and asking for support of their thinking as they begin to implement some of the strategies.  However, we can encourage one another by reminding “to go fast, go slow.” (Creating Cultures of Thinking, CHapter 10).  Choose 1 routine and work with it for a couple of weeks.  Reflect on your implementation, ask a peer to observe and share their evidence with you – What they see?  What they think?  What they wonder? from a spectator’s viewpoint.

One you’ve reflected and tried again, feel comfortable, then choose another routine.  Look at your students and decide what it is you want them to do – skim the routines and find one that fits and try it…slow and steady.  Give yourself time to try it.  Reflect.  Adjust.  Try again.  Ask students to reflect (CCoT) – tell them the name of the routine and ask them their thoughts – what worked well, what was difficult about it, suggestions for making it better.  I’ve met some teachers who refuse to get student feedback – “what can a 15 year old tell me that would help?” Well.  Their the person in your classroom everyday.  They can offer insight from the students point of view.  We sometimes forget what it is like to sit in their seats.

I’m a believer that when we ask for student input – and we share a summary, how you may try to adjust based on their feedback, we model value in their thinking.  This creates buy-in from them – to observe how we are trying to improve the classroom to have greater impact for them.

Chapter 3 also share how Thinking Routines are tools, structures and patterns for behavior.  I see this as a progressive model in the learning environment.  We help model, support the idea of the routines and how we can use them as tools.  Students begin to internalize the structures to lead their own discussions and eventually they become patterns of routine behavior for student thinking.  The author’s describe how routines become part of the fabric of our classrooms through repeated use.

Just remember – for students who have never been asked to think this way – we cannot give up, only support and encourage them to continue.  For teachers who have never been asked to think this way or teach this way – we cannot give up.  We must keep challenging ourselves, support one another and encourage to keep reflect, adjust, try again.




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