Summer Book Study, Week 4

Yay! We're finally getting to the "meat", the specifics of thinking routines! Thanks for joining me for Week 4 of Making Thinking Visible, Chapter 4: Routines for Introducing and Exploring Ideas! If you missed the first few chapters, no worry; you can catch up here:
There were so many terrific routines described in this chapter, all of them useful for the beginning of a unit or digging deeper. There are step by step directions in this chapter, along with real-classroom examples. This is where the DVD provided with the book comes in handy! I know I learn best when I actually see and hear teachers and students in action.

Here's a chart with key points. Don't you love how the "key thinking moves" are written as verbs? They remind me of writing lesson plan objectives: "The students will__________" :) This chart is handy to look at & decide what DO we want our students to be able to DO!
A few routines I wanted to highlight:

See-Think-Wonder is so simple, yet I don't do this often enough. The importance of observation is the basis for this routine. Select an image or object: painting, photo, video clip, cartoon, artifact, etc. The image/object should not already be known to students and should have a degree of detail that is likely to emerge only after extended observation. The key to this routine is keeping students focused on "What do you see?" without making interpretations. After partner or class discussion, THEN ask "Based on what we are seeing and noticing, wha does it make us think? What else is going on here? What makes you say that?" This encourages students to provide supporting evidence. Over time, it helps move kids away from pure opinion. Visual analysis is an essential skill; "There is a problem of being able to see the relevant detail in a visual image, whether a painting, cartoon, drawing, or photograph. In fact, it is really two problems: seeing the detail and discerning what is relevant detail in a particular context." (p. 59) And lastly, the step we often rush through: WONDER. Ask students what they are now wondering about based on what they have seen and have been thinking. Have learners share their thinking and add to the wonderings over the course of the unit as new ideas occur. This is important, particularly for students who really have no idea what they wonder and to hear others model critical thinking.  This thinking routine will be perfect for science (isn't it all about observation, after all?) and I'm excited to find some primary sources to use when teaching Social Studies next year!!

Zoom In is a thinking strategy that slowly reveals only portions of an image over time. Students observe a bit of an image closely and develop a hypothesis. Then as more and more of the image is exposed, students reassess their initial interpretation in light of the new information.  This routine teaches learners flexibility and how sometimes conflicting information may change one's original hypothesis. Istvan Banyai has authored several picture books that are PERFECT to use for this thinking routine!! One of them is called Zoom (sounds appropriate, right?). The book begins with a large image:
Then the next page pulls back to reveal more:
And finally the rooster is only a tiny part of a whole farm scene. My kids never tire of looking through these books! Zoom In is a terrific routine to teach perspective!

Think-Puzzle-Explore is similar to KWL (Know-Want to know-Learned) charts that we were all taught in our credential classes. However, the problem I always had was the "K": students would volunteer all sorts of responses to what they thought they knew, not necessarily accurate information. This routine connects learning to their prior knowledge, yet sets the stage for deeper inquiry. (This routine should certainly be revisited throughout a unit!) The key to Think-Puzzle-Explore is the Explore section: after asking "What questions or puzzles do you have?", ask, "HOW can we explore these puzzles?" It's not enough to just have questions, but these puzzlements should truly be what learners want to find out about.
What I love is that these are very low-prep (other than the teacher having to THINK about which objects or artifacts to use), but they will flow naturally into the routines of the classrooms. I'm excited to see how students will be unafraid to ask questions and then guide them deeper into research! Which of the thinking routines to introduce and explore ideas do you think will be useful in your class?


  1. I use the See-Think-Wonder at the beginning of a unit. It really gets the kids engaged from the very beginning, thinking and questioning. It's very powerful! Thanks for sharing this.
    Are We There Yet?

    1. Do you see growth in the depth of your students' wonderings as the year goes on? I'd love to hear more!

  2. I'm really enjoying this book. It's so "meaty"! I've been reading the strategies one at a time, and really thinking about where I can start using them in my curriculum. There are notes all over my book! Thanks for this great read.

    1. Yay! I'm so glad to hear this, Melora!! My book is covered with notes, too!! Now to choose which specific routines I want to incorporate and when to use!! Thanks for joining!