As part of our staff professional learning to kick start the school year, we had the perfect opportunity to deepen our learning and build our practice with visible thinking routines. The presenter Simon Brooks was engaging and notably competent of cultures of thinking and encouraged us to share our thinking and extend our ideas using a selection of thinking routines.
Over the past few years I have implemented some thinking routines into my teaching and learning sequences – particularly See Think Wonder, Colour Symbol Image and Step Inside the Character. However, spending a full day immersed in visible thinking has assisted my approach to teaching and learning planning.
A key takeaway from Simon Brooks was the idea of removing the front-loading of information to allow thinking to occur. The session also assisted me to consider what thinking routine would suit a lesson and year group. Whatever the lesson focus is I will consider – how could visible thinking be embedded.
To follow is a brief overview of how I started the year:
Year 1 – Introduction to a series of lessons on what can we learn from Fables, Stories from other Cultures and Aboriginal Dreaming Stories. The image from the fable The Lion and the Mouse from the delightful book Children’s favourite animal fables retold and illustrated by Graham Percy, 2000, provided the stimulus. Following the steps of the Zoom In routine, a section of the image was revealed in stages. Students were asked to look closely and respond to the question – What do you see or notice? What ideas might you have about this image.
Revealing a little more of the image the students were asked
- What new things to do you see? Has the new information answered any of your wonders or changed your previous ideas?
- What new things are you wondering about?
On the final reveal, the key question was
- What questions remain to you about this image?
This routine inspired thoughtful discussion and anticipation as the image was revealed. Depending on the time, some of the Year 1 classes just had time for the thinking routine, while one class had time for the story in one session. It did make me smile when children shared fascination in seeing the same image in the story.
In the past, I had started the series of lessons introducing the word fables and getting right into it – pretty much front loading. I have in mind to read three fables before we even think about the connections between the stories and lead into what is a fable and what have we learnt from each story?
See Think Wonder
Year 2 – The thinking routine See Think Wonder allowed me to slow down and start with thinking for the first lesson of the year with Year 2 classes. The image from Emily Gravett’s book Wolves provided the stimulus to respond to the visible thinking routine questions:
- What do you see? (I see…)
What do you think about that? (I think…)
What does it make you wonder? (I wonder…)
Year 5 organised breakout groups to introduce students to Ghana as part of a geography and science inquiry unit. My lesson was based on folktales from Ghana. I had not used the 4C’s thinking routine before, however, the overview highlighted making connections, asking questions and identifying key ideas and seemed a good fit.
The book How Anansi got his stories by Cooke and Violet was short enough to read fully and allow time for students to respond to 3 of the 4C questions.
- Connections – What connections do you draw between the text and your own life and/or other learning?
- Concepts – What key concepts or ideas do you think are important and worth holding onto from the text?
- Changes – What changes in attitudes, thinking, or action are suggested by the text, either for you or others?
Although the time to respond felt rushed and I did not feel confident with this new thinking routine some of the responses were reflective and valuable as a whole group summary. I look forward to working with this routine again.