I want to start today’s post by thanking the NEISD GT teachers who attended yesterday’s after-school training. Many of them came even though they then needed to go back to other campuses to attend PTA meetings. Despite the extra long work day, their enthusiasm and cooperation were amazing. Yesterday’s session was, “Frameworks for Facilitating Deeper Discussions and Learning,” which you can read about on my Professional Development page.
One of the Visible Thinking Routines we practiced yesterday was “Tug of War.” We used an example from the original Making Thinking Visible book by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. In the “Picture of Practice” for this routine, Clair Taglauer, an 8th grade teacher from Traverse City, Michigan, describes how she used “Tug of War” with her students when they began reading The Giver. This is a book used with 5th graders by many of the GT teachers in my former district. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, describes a dystopian society where as much as possible is “the same” to avoid conflict. Taglauer asked her students to think about the concept of an ideal society from the two opposing sides represented in the book: sameness and diversity. With this routine, students generate arguments that support each side, and then post them along a rope. A key part of the second step is placement of the ideas along the rope. Instead of just hanging them on each side, groups also determine the strength of each argument and rank them so that what they believe to be the strongest supporting statements for each side are at the opposite ends of the rope, growing increasingly weaker toward the middle.
“Tug of War” helps students to not only look at more than one side of a dilemma, but also to note the varying layers of complexities and justify their arguments. It’s a good routine to use whenever it seems like students are jumping to conclusions, and you can have multiple ropes coming together at one point if there are several sides to consider.
You can see one example of the “Tug of War” the GT teachers did yesterday below. (Note for those of you not from Texas: HEB is our beloved grocery store!) You can learn more about this Visible Thinking Routine by reading the book I mentioned above, visiting the Project Zero website, or clicking here for some videos and a downloadable template. I’m working on a Wakelet collection of resources for Thinking Routines, but in the meantime you can click here to see some other posts that I’ve done about them.
Like last week’s “Peel the Fruit” activity adapted from Harvard’s Project Zero, 3-2-1 Bridge is another Visible Thinking Routine that I’ve used with my students to elicit deeper introspection and understanding of a topic. You can see my initial post on the routine here. 3-2-1 Bridge is similar to a K-W-L chart, but it requires higher order thinking. Students are given a topic, and write down 3 words it initially makes them think of, then two questions, and 1 simile or metaphor to describe it. After learning more, they go through this process again, and make a “bridge” connection between their first impressions and their later ones. You can see examples of how this routine can be used in the classroom on this website created by Alice Vigors.
For online learning, you could use the Slides activity I am sharing. I considered a few ways to use this. You could use slides 2-4 for backgrounds on a Google Jamboard for collaborative work or in a PearDeck or Nearpod presentation (once before they learn about the topic, and then after – with the addition of slide 5). Alternatively, you could take out slides 2-5, and then assign the activity to individual students or pairs to work on together. Either way, I think that it is good to do the reflection questions because metacognition is so important when using these routines.
UPDATE 9/29/2020: Here is a link to a post with a Google Slides Template for online learning using this routine. The post also includes a link to a post by Dr. Catlin Tucker with 5 other Thinking Routine Templates.
“Peel the Fruit” is a Visible Thinking Routine from Project Zero. I have mentioned some of the other thinking routines on this blog in the past (CSI, 3-2-1 Bridge) that have been very effective in my classroom for encouraging students to think deeper. More recently, I wrote about how the Smithsonian Learning Lab uses Thinking Routines to examine art. I have never used “Peel the Fruit” before, but it seems like it would be particularly useful for older students to use for examining news stories right now or for younger students to think more deeply about a picture book they are reading.
In the “Peel the Fruit” routine, students start by making observations about the “surface” of their subject, and go through six more steps to discover the implications beneath what appears to be obvious. You can see an example of this being used with a text on this page created by Alice Vigors. (There is also a template that you can download.)
Ron Ritchart, who has a book coming out in May 2020, and is one of Harvard’s Project Zero researchers, has included a different graphic by Paviter Singh that might be more appropriate for older students on his blog. Ron also offers a link to this document created by Carol Geneix and Jaime Chao-Mignano at Washington International School, that suggests online tools that can be used with each of the Project Zero Thinking Routines.
“Peel the Fruit” would be an excellent way to encourage curiosity and critical thinking about an image, Tweet, news article, headline, or literary work. If students have never done the routine before, it would be helpful to model the process before asking them to complete it independently.
I also like the: Artful, Global, and Agency by Design Thinking Routines that are included on this page. For example, I’ve added one of the Global cards below. Imagine applying these questions to the current pandemic, and what answers you might receive from your students! Some might find literal beauty in the microscopic image of the virus, while others may see the beauty of human nature being revealed as people jump in to help their communities.
If you are preparing curriculum for distance learning, I hope that you will consider adding some of these to get a more detailed understanding of the thoughts your students are having while they learn.
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.