My engineering classes have been working on helping to design the new playground at Advanced Learning Academy. On Thursday, the architect, landscape architect, and district Director of Constructor visited the students to explain the process and answer questions.
Sonya Terborg has a great blog post about questioning here, and I love the quadrant example she gives.
My original plan was to use the image in a Padlet. However, as seems to be the case too often recently, our internet has been wonky. So, I went somewhat “old school” and had the students use Post-Its on our whiteboard.
I changed the wording a bit, and flipped the labels on the y axis so that the more they cared about the answer to the question, the higher up it would be on the axis.
Although the concept appeared to be difficult for the class at first, they soon got the idea. As always, some questions were “deeper” than others. “What is the budget?” was asked more than once, but, “What is your idea of a playground of the future?” got high marks from the students.
The guests wanted to project a presentation, so they were able to pull PostIts off the board as they answered each question while their slides were on the screen. It turned out that our primitive method of using the whiteboard was a good call after all!
In my post about C.S.I. last November, I talked about the Visible Thinking routines that are outlined in Harvard’s Project Zero. Another one of these routines is called, “3-2-1 Bridge.” This is kind of a deeper version of a KWL chart. For “3-2-1” Bridge, students write their initial ideas about a topic, then learn more, write their new ideas about the topic, and then find a connection (the bridge) between the initial and new ideas.
I’ve used this routine a couple of times with different grade levels. Today, my 5th graders used it to discuss the topic of “Choices” in The Giver. I was fortunate to find this Google Doc created by Heather Marshall that enriched the discussion by linking to various other resources addressing the topic. The activity launched an incredible conversation in my class regarding choices. We went from, “It’s terrible that they don’t have any choices in The Giver community,” to deep and thoughtful considerations about why people might prefer to not have choices, who should determine choices, how pressure can instigate poor choices, and whether or not safety is more important than choice.
Here is a link to a simple 3-2-1 Bridge Template that you can use. This can be done together as a class, on Post-It notes on large chart paper, or individually. Younger students may have difficulty with the concept of using analogies, but they can still compare the topic to something else. This is one of those activities that I like to call, “self-differentiated,” because all students can participate while taking it to different levels of understanding.
I should probably explain right at the beginning of this post that I am not going to be talking about crime scene investigation. Or television shows. Or the fact that I couldn’t stand C.S.I. Miami because David Caruso is a terrible actor. Or the fact that watching too many episodes of C.S.I. resulted in me being less worried about being murdered in my home than about the idea of a team of people being so horrified by my lack of housekeeping skills that they wouldn’t be able to concentrate on solving my murder.
No, this is a different C.S.I. This one is a Visible Thinking Routine from Harvard’s Project Zero. I am a little upset with myself that it took me 27 years to discover these Visible Thinking Routines. It’s good I don’t plan to retire any time soon…
In this case, C.S.I. stands for, “Color, Symbol, Image.” Students can use this to reflect on something they’ve read, a video they’ve watched, or anything else they have learned. From the student responses, teachers can really get a great idea of each student’s comprehension of the material. It is also what I like to call a “self-differentiated” activity because students of many abilities can use this tool at their own level.
I decided to use C.S.I. with my 5th graders to find out how they felt about the novel we are reading, The Giver. We haven’t gotten far in the book, so I plan to have them do this same activity after they have finished the story so we can compare/contrast their feelings about it. Before giving them the green light to start, I showed them this example (thanks to Kristen Kullberg for sharing this and the Kinder example linked below on her blog) from another dystopian novel, The Hunger Games. You can see a couple of their completed products below. (The sticky notes were added by other students when we did a gallery walk and they could put stickies on the “wow” ideas.)
This was a good formative assessment. The students seemed to enjoy it, and I was able to see that they had already developed some interesting insights about the fictional community in the book. I’m looking forward to using some more of the Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero!