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Visible Thinking ... Harvard Ed School Project Zero




Thinking routines help learners ponder topics that might not seem to invite intricate thinking at first glance, such as arthropods. Such routines jump-start thinking and make it visible.


Example:  a thinking routine called think-puzzle-explore, which has students share what they think about a topic, identify questions they puzzle about, and target directions to explore.



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Like the familiar KWL strategy—What do you Know? What do you Want to know? What have you Learned? (Lyman, 1981)—think-puzzle-explore taps students' prior knowledge, but with a key difference. By asking what students  "think they know" rather than what they "know," the prompt uses conditional language that suggests possibilities and openness rather than absolutes (Langer & Piper, 1987; Ritchhart & Perkins, 2000).


This encourages sharing of tentative ideas. All students can engage in a conversation focused on personal thoughts rather than definitive knowledge.




Different Routines


Connect-Extend-Challenge  This routine helps students make connections  Ask students these three questions:
 ●     How are the ideas and information presented connected to what you know and have studied?

●     What new ideas extended or pushed your thinking in new directions?

●     What is still challenging or confusing for you? What questions, wonderings,

·       or puzzles do you have?





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See-Think-Wonder This routine helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry  Ask students to make observations about an object, image, or event, answering these three questions:
●   What do you see?
 ●   What do you think about that?

●   What does it make you wonder?
















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  ·        Compass Points This routine helps students explore various facets of a proposition or idea (such as a school dress code) before taking a stand on it. Ask students these four questions, recording their responses as the directions of a compass to provide a visual anchor.

●     E = Excited. What excites you about this idea or proposition?

●     W = Worrisome. What do you find worrisome about this idea?

●     N = Need to Know. What else do you need to know or find out about it?  What additional information would help you?

●     S = Stance, Steps, or Suggestions for Moving Forward. What is your current stance on the idea or proposition? What steps might you take to increase your understanding of the issue?

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Values, Identities, Actions   Process-sheet-creating-communities   Building a Thinking Routine






Process Flow

Major Task Description
Introduction Knowing myself-----   Ice Breaker ---- Team buddies
Team Culture Building our Youth Community -Working together
Thinking Routines Self-manage our Inquiry process
Outside Connections/ Mentors Develop our outside partners
What is important to us? What issues do we want to work on?
Measurements & Outcomes Research & Requirements
Finding possible solutions Problem Solving
Iterate and redesign Evaluating & Discussion
Celebration and Inform Others Reporting & Restart another Issue