The Visible Thinking Routines have been created by Harvard’s Project Zero and can be found in full here. My hope is that my thinking around each routine sparks an idea for you that can in turn grow and develop into deep thinking for your students. I would love to hear how you are using these routines in your classroom so please feel free to comment below. This weeks routine in practice is Options Explosion.
The Visible Thinking Routines have been created by Harvard’s Project Zero and can be found in full here. My hope is that my thinking around each routine sparks an idea for you that can in turn grow and develop into deep thinking for your students. I would love to hear how you are using these routines in your classroom so please feel free to comment below. This weeks routine in practice is The Explanation Game.
We have all seen letters like the one my daughter received yesterday floating around the Internet. I really appreciate the teacher taking the time to send it and write the handwritten note at the bottom. I know my daughter did too.
However, I have to say it, in fact, I want to scream it…
WHY DO WE HAVE AN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM THAT ADVOCATES FOR TESTING WHICH WORRIES MOST TEACHERS TO THE POINT THAT THEY FEEL THE NEED TO APOLOGISE TO OUR STUDENTS?
And, in addition to this…
WHY ARE WE NOT APOLOGISING TO OUR TEACHERS?
To my daughter’s teacher and all other teachers operating in this ‘back to basics’ system that is sucking the life out of our students,
Thank you for you letter home about NAPLAN. My daughter is unique and kind and clever and fast and both her and I appreciate the time you took to tell her. However, I tell her this everyday and I think it is more important that I tell you how unique you are because (and well this is just a guess from my experience as a teacher) I am pretty sure it is not something you hear every day.
So here I go….
This week your class will sit NAPLAN tests. Before they take these tests there is something very important I want you to know.
These tests do not assess all of what makes you an exceptional and unique teacher.
The people who score these tests don’t know how happy you make my daughter.
They don’t know that your warm personality and giant smile drive her to get out of bed in a morning with a giant leap.
These people do not know that you read my daughter’s Grug book with her last week even though you were busy.
They don’t know that you sing ‘Flowers by the Window’ as a transition between subjects to keep your students calm and happy,
And they don’t know that my daughter now sings that tune at home when she is cheerful.
These people do not know my daughter was speaking about atoms all the way to school on Monday.
These people do not know that your eyes welled up with tears when you spoke with me about how my daughter was feeling last term after her cousin lost his life.
These people do not know the concentration and concern you exhibited in our parent meeting to discuss my daughter’s specific learning needs.
These people do not know how often you adapt work for her every single day to make life easier.
These people do not know how much she has improved since entering your classroom.
These people do not know how much my daughter loves you or how much you love her.
These people do not know that you go home to a husband and a baby boy who needs you too.
These people do not know that you are caring and thoughtful and that every day you do your best, even when you feel like your best is not good enough.
They also don’t know the impact the teachers from her last three years of schooling have had on her personal growth and development as a human being and they never will.
(Oh and did I mention none of the parents who look at the My School website will know any of this either!)
The scores you get… no wait your students get… from the NAPLAN tests will tell you how they did on that day, not how well you teach. They cannot even begin to measure the difference you make each and every day. I cannot even express this in words.
So come to school this week and take a deep breathe as you pass out those exams. Smile gently at those students who will ask you to read a question that you are not allowed to read. Bless each one of them silently in your head as you walk around the room and as soon as it is time to put those pens down and pack up sing ‘Flowers by the Window’ with all of your heart. Then take those kids outside, let them run and play. Let them explore the world joyfully like I know you want them too. And at the end of the day share a quiet meal with your family, soak in a warm bath and hug your baby tight.
Remember, there is no way to ‘test’ all the wonderful things that make you, YOU! Nothing can possibly measure the complexity of being an outstanding, caring teacher. You are one in a million. Thank you for letting my flower grow!
With much love,
A parent who appreciates everything you do every day. X
"Wow look at us now
Flowers in the window
It's such a lovely day
And I'm glad you feel the same
Cause to stand up, out in the crowd
You are one in a million,
And I love you so
Lets watch the flowers grow
Wow look at you now
Flowers in the window
Its such a lovely day
And I'm glad you feel the same
Cause to stand up, out in the crowd
You are one in a million
And I love you so
Let's watch the flowers grow
Let's watch the flowers grow"
- Flowers in the Window by Travis
The Visible Thinking Routines have been created by Harvard’s Project Zero and can be found in full here. My hope is that my thinking around each routine sparks an idea for you that can in turn grow and develop into deep thinking for your students. I would love to hear how you are using these routines in your classroom so please feel free to comment below. This weeks routine in practice is Here Now, Then There.
I introduced the concept of protocols in an earlier post this year on the Scene Analysis Protocol. As a outlined in this post, a protocol is a formal procedure or system of rules. I have found that using a formal protocol places attention on the process (let’s call it the thinking!) rather then the outcome. It also allows students to come at a task equally. Each student understands the norms of the activity as there is a clear guideline and therefore they know what to expect. For students with learning needs the protocol can act like a safety net while students who are academically gifted are able to fine tune their thinking processes due to the scaffolded approach.
This particular protocol has stemmed from my attempt to improve student logbook entries in Drama. In Drama all students must keep a logbook that recounts, records and reflects on their learning in Drama through both theoretical and practical tasks. Up until this year I had students writing logbook reflections in the last five minutes of class or at home if we were pushed for time. The problem was that this did not allow for deep thinking. Even with guided questions the students were just skimming the surface or diverting down the road of classroom politics or, for that matter, every irrelevant detail of the lesson. Essentially, although I valued the insight into their individual mindset, the intention of the logbook was often lost. So I introduced this protocol, which can actually be used in any subject whatsoever to reflect on the learning and thinking that has taken place. Just replace the examples and the word Drama with whatever subject you teach.
I now complete this protocol in the last 15-20 minutes I have with them during the week. This may seem like a long time to devote to the process, but…. as Ron Ritchhart writes, “Our allocations of periods of time reflect our values.” I want to show my students that I value the learning process and their individual growth. Besides, 5 minutes at the end of each lesson adds up to the same! Now I have one quality entry a week instead of three or four (if I was lucky) scribbling’s touching on a few things here or there. The quality of ALL student entries has increased. This is also beginning to transfer to their extended responses too.
My favourite part of the protocol is the section that asks "How can you apply this learning to future tasks in this subject and the wider world?". I always look forward to this part as I am always surprised by the connections they make... some of which I haven't even thought of!
A few things to note:
- Stick to the timeline. Don’t be tempted to rush through it. We need to make time for deep thinking to occur. I do find though that depending on the class and what we have covered that week I may need to adjust the times dependent on their needs.
- Allow silence. If you are sitting in silence for a minute and a half after a few elements have been initially rattled off, then so be it! Silence is not wasted time. The student’s will still be analysing and deconstructing what they saw.
- After your initial prompt - “Ok… now reflect on what you have learnt this week, noting your personal ‘aha moments."- don’t say anything! Do not single out a kid for a response. If you feel they are really struggling, you might contribute an answer to model what is expected.
- I have used butcher’s paper as the initial way to note down the discussion. You could use a whiteboard, liquid chalk on a window or mirror, butcher’s paper or a Google doc. I personally feel it is more easily accessible by hand. I have also taken photos of our notes to place on our shared Google Drive / Classroom in case the students want to refer back to it later.
If you want to know more about protocols in the classroom check out the book The Power of Protocols (2015) by McDonald, Mohr, Dichter, & McDonald. There are some generic protocols in the book as well as suggestions on facilitating and getting started.
I hope this protocol is useful for use in your classroom. I would also love any feedback on the protocol, how you have used it in your classroom and whether or not you found it useful. If you have any further questions about its use I am more then happy to answer them. Just comment below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
PS. Place these guiding questions on your classroom wall to refer to during the process!
I was recently challenged to contemplate the application of Ron Richhart's cultural forces to an Indigenous context. Many of us in Australia teach students from Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander backgrounds and/or teach Indigenous content within our curriculum. However, it is easy to overlook the individual needs of this specific group of students and the value we place on Indigenous content within our classroom. So, I decided to ask the question "How can we manipulate the cultural forces to meet the individual needs of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander students and explore Indigenous content within our classroom?" The result is this resource.
To create this resource I examined research on Indigenous pedagogy, embodied the 8 ways of Aboriginal learning within each force and consulted with an Aboriginal Education Liaison Officer. I hope that it can be useful to your thinking, your teaching and your students growth as learners and Australians who share in this story.
I hate report writing. I find little joy in it. I am never happy with the final outcome as I find they are impersonal and not reflective of the whole student that enters my class each day. So, I decided to take a different approach with this latest set of reports.
I have spent a great deal of the holidays sitting with Ron Ritchhart’s Creating Cultures of Thinking and I wanted to write reports that reflected the work we have been doing in our school in this area. Within Ron’s book he highlights a need to focus on student learning rather then the work. He makes the following comparison:
I wanted my reports to reflect a learning-orientated classroom. Hence, I ditched my usually report writing strategy of regurgitating outcomes and centred my feedback around the process of learning and developing.
Additionally, Ritchhardt discusses the expectation of a growth vs. a fixed mindset, The term ‘growth mindset’ has become a buzz phrase in education in the past twelve months, but I question how many individuals have actually changed their teaching to reflect this research. This concept developed from Carol Dweck’s work around failure. It centres around an individuals ‘mindset’ in relation to their talents, ability, intelligence, challenges and setbacks. Both Dweck and Ritchhardt note the impact feedback has on a students mindset. So, I researched the qualities of a growth mindset and a fixed mindset and set out to comment on some of these attributes too.
These are the areas or key words I used to guide my report writing this time.
In relation to mindset :
Obviously, this set of reports are written for Drama. However, the lead in statements are generic and could be used for all subjects, Furthermore the content specific statements could be easily adapted for other subjects too. In the content specific areas I was focussing on evidence from the students Individual Project, extended responses/essay writing and in the preliminary course section, an acting practitioner performance task.
I do not believe these report comments are perfect. In fact, I am pretty sure the grammar could do with some work! However, I hope you find something in there to stimulate thought or assist you in your report writing. I will also extend on this resource as I approach reports later in the year. So if you find this useful, watch this space.
(I probably should also note I only teach girls (hence the lack of the word he!) and generally awesome kids!)
Lead in with positive statements that comment on the process of learning.
Theoretical Content and Essay Writing
Preliminary Course – These comments centred around evidence from an acting practitioner performance task
The Visible Thinking Routines have been created by Harvard’s Project Zero and can be found in full here. My hope is that my thinking around each routine sparks an idea for you that can in turn grow and develop into deep thinking for your students. I would love to hear how you are using these routines in your classroom so please feel free to comment below. This weeks routine in practice is the Claim, Support, Question.
The Visible Thinking Routines have been created by Harvard’s Project Zero and can be found in full here. My hope is that my thinking around each routine sparks an idea for you that can in turn grow and develop into deep thinking for your students. I would love to hear how you are using these routines in your classroom so please feel free to comment below. This weeks routine in practice is the Step Inside.
Following on from my below post on the preliminary course, here are examples of a year 9 scope and sequence and accompanying assessment tasks. You can also find suggestions on implementing the Slam Poetry / Physical Theatre unit here. Similar to my post below please consider the following points.
1. These resources are not perfect and will never be completely perfect. I don't pretend they are.
2. They are ever changing. I get bored and need to change things often. I also change tasks and programs to meet the particular needs of my students.
3. They are written to my strengths as well as the strengths (and weaknesses) of my students. Eg. My program looks different now that I am in an all girls school to when I was in a co-ed school.
Please also note that if you are reading this on a phone the documents will not fully load. You must use a computer to see the documents.
Scope and Sequence
Assessment 1 - Marking Criteria
Assessment 1 - Learning Landscape Resource
Assessment 2 - Marking Criteria
Assessment 3 - Marking Criteria
Amy Gill -