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.
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!
Amy Gill -