Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Book Study, Week 6

I can't believe we're already in week 6 of our summer book study of Making Thinking Visible! If you missed the beginning, be sure to go back and catch up! LOTS of good info in this book!
This week's reading, Chapter 6: Routines for Digging Deeper into Ideas gives some great routines to teach while in the middle or end of a unit. One of the things I like about this book is that all routines have been tested out with kindergarten up through high school. I picked a few to share that I want to try with my class (in just a few weeks! Yikes!)

Red Light, Yellow Light teaches students not just to read unaware or not to accept all that is read as truth. This thinking routine is helping students to become more aware of specific moments that hold signs of possible "puzzles of truth".  (Don't you love that term?!) Select materials such as opinion articles, unsolved mysteries or other sources with possible conflicts. I was thinking as the upcoming 2016 Presidential election draws closer, there will be many Red Light Yellow Light moments from candidate speeches, ads, and platforms. Introduce the selected material to your class ; you may not want to disclose the source or say anything that will prejudice the reading. Students work individually, on pairs or small groups to search for and identify possible "puzzles of truth".  Red lights are parts of the reading that make you definitely stop to question. Yellow lights are places to proceed with caution. This routine will cause students to actually think about their reading, rather than read just to complete an assignment. THEN, have students provide reasons as to why they categorized their red and yellow lights. After sharing, ask the class, "What have we learned about particular signs that indicate there could be a problem or puzzles of truth?" This thinking routine works well with the road signs in Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. (Another fantastic book that changed the way I teach reading!) The authors also note the importance of helping students identify places where the claims are solid (green lights) & what makes them solid. 

I've created a recording sheet to use as I'm teaching my students this thinking routine; you can grab your copy here.
Who doesn't like a competitive game of Tug-of-War? This thinking routine identifies two opposing sides of a problem or situation. As in the physical game of Tug-of-War (and I may actually introduce this routine with a real rope & students on sides outside!), the strongest kids work best as anchors at the end of the ropes, while the "weaker tugs" in the center are easily pulled over the center line. (Although I won't initially tell this to my class; it'll by trial & error so they can discover this.) Often children blurt out an opinion without carefully thinking about the issue. Tug-of-War encourages students to initially suspend a side and think about multiple pulls or reasons in support of both sides of the issue. The generation and exploring of multiple supporting ideas is the key to developing deeper thinking.
Identify a dilemma for students (this can be in the form of a picture, text, video). Ask, "What seems to be the issue there?" draw a line with a center to represent the rope and sides. Have students name the two sides of the rope (opposing viewpoints). For each side, ask class for the tugs or reasons that support that particular viewpoint. Kids record reasons/tugs on sticky notes. In small groups or as a whole class, discuss where to place the tugs (remember to emphasize the stronger tugs are further at the ends of the rope.) Focus on how the tugs compare with one another in strength. 

Discussions on a tug may ensue with, "That depends..." Those reasons may be moved closer to the center with a different colored sticky note labeled "It depends." I myself have always had (still have) difficulty with multiple choice tests because I can justify my answers with "it depends."  (And this is NOT what test makers intend!) This routine could be followed up after the unit with the "I Used to Think... Now I Think..." routine. What a visual way to demonstrate growth in thinking!

Sentence-Phrase-Word helps students engage with and make meaning of the text by identifying themes and implications. It is a very simple routine:
Learners must justify their choices of word, phrase, and sentence. After sharing in small groups, identify the common themes that emerged and then implications or predictions they suggested. Morals or messages can also be pulled out. One teacher used this thinking routine after completing a novel. She gave one chapter to each pair of students, who identified one sentence, phrase and word to represent the chapter. Partners shared aloud, along with their justification for their choices. Have students reference the page number and paragraph so others can reference during discussion. (This also keeps students accountable.) A word of caution: don't let the recording of ideas distract for the conversation about choices and ideas.

I'm so excited to implement these new thinking routines when school starts! Which ones do you think you'll implement? Thanks for participating in our book study this week! See you next Wednesday as we delve into creating a classroom culture and environment of thinkers!

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