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.
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 Colour, Symbol, Image.
"Listening and questioning are the basis for positive classroom interactions that can in turn shape meaningful collaboration, which can then build a culture of thinking. At the heart of these two practices lies a respect for and interest in students' thinking."
― Ron Ritchhardt, Making Thinking Visible
Considering preexisting attitudes and accounting for diverse perspectives can be challenging for young students. This set of visible thinking routines focus on fairness and assist students in exploring complex dilemmas. Detailed descriptions of each routine can be found here. These ideas are not my own, but a valuable resource which I believe should be shared and widely embraced. Please feel free to print them and display them in your classroom.
(All images have been sourced from Unsplash.)
"When we make the thinking that happens in our classroom visible, it becomes more concrete and real. It becomes something we can talk about and explore, push around, challenge, and learn from”
― Ron Ritchhardt, Making Thinking Visible
Creativity is the perfect means by which we can explore, challenge and learn about a given topic. This set of visible thinking routines focus on creativity and assist students in dissecting creative perspectives and making creative decisions. Detailed descriptions of each routine can be found here. These ideas are not my own, but a valuable resource which I believe should be shared and widely embraced. Please feel free to print them and display them in your classroom.
(All images have been sourced from Unsplash.)
“A culture of thinking produces the feelings, energy, and even joy that can propel learning forward and motivate us to do what at times can be hard and challenging mental work.”
― Ron Ritchhardt, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools
It can be difficult mental work to clarify the truth of a given topic or issue particularly in our current climate. This set of visible thinking routines focus on truth and assist students in exploring the many dimensions of this difficult and somewhat complex concept. Detailed descriptions of each routine can be found here. These ideas are not my own, but a valuable resource which I believe should be shared and widely embraced. Please feel free to print them and display them in your classroom.
(All images have been sourced from Unsplash.)
This lesson has Visible Thinking Routines at its centre. Colour, Symbol, Image and Creative Hunt are utilised to promote student-centred learning and deep thinking. This is part of my ‘Elements of Production’ unit in the preliminary course. It is a highly engaging lesson (for both the students and the teacher!) and a beautiful alternative to a teacher-directed lesson on this topic.
Blank Paper – A4, A3 or butcher’s paper
Coloured Pencils / Markers
It is assumed students have read and workshopped a text in which to base their promotional work. I am currently using Caryl Churchill’s play Love and Information as the underlying text for our study of the ‘Elements of Production’. However, any text could be easily utilised in the same manner.
1. Interesting, Intriguing and Important – Students are given five minutes to write down five to ten things they find interesting, intriguing and important within or about the play set for study. Each student shares one of their thoughts with the class without comment or judgement. Students can add any new thoughts to their list as they listen to the comments made by others.
2. Colour – Students are asked to choose a colour that they believe reflects or encapsulates the essence of the text. They are to write this colour down below the interesting, intriguing and important points outlining why they chose that colour. They must justify their decision. Students then share this thought with the person next to them, or with the whole class, in order to give students the opportunity to see the diverse opinions of their classmates.
3. Symbol - Students are asked to choose a symbol that they believe encapsulates the essence of the text. They may draw their symbol or provide a written description of their symbol. Students must also explain in writing why they chose this particular symbol. Again they share this thought with the person next to them or the entire class.
4. Image – Students are now asked to draw an image that encapsulates the essence of this text. They are encouraged to use their colour and symbol as inspiration for this image. Tell them that an image does not include text. Remind them that they need to be able to justify their choices.
5. Gallery Viewing – Sit in a circle if possible with the students work in the centre of the circle. Give students time to really look at the images. Which images capture their imagination? Why? Which images do they want to find out more about? What makes them say that? Discuss.
6. Justification – Each student explains their images outlining the choices they made. This can be done in writing or verbally. Students can ask clarifying questions either via post-it notes during the gallery viewing or verbally.
7. Intro to Promotional Materials – Layout various theatrical promotion materials such as flyers, posters and programs. Students explore the various items by viewing and reading the text and images in silence. After they have had significant viewing time, students are asked about the images on the promotional material. Which images capture their imagination? Why? Which images do they want to find out more about? What makes them say that? Discuss. Link to their images they created for the earlier activity.
8. The purpose of the flyer, program and poster – Break students into separate groups of three to four. Give each group a different item (Eg. One group has a poster, another a flyer and so on), markers and a sheet of A3 or butcher’s paper. Nominate a scribe for each group and get each to draw two circles as demonstrated below. In the inner circle students are to write – What is the main purpose here? In the outer circle students are to write – What are the parts and their purposes? As small group students begin to examine the source they have been given and answer these questions. Following the Creative Hunt routine students mark the parts of their particular source that they found especially clever or creative with a star. Final they answer the question – Who is the target audience?
9. Peer Teach – On completing the Creative Hunt students present orally their findings to the class. Once everyone has completed their presentation ask students to make comparisons between the various items – What was similar between the items? What was different?
10. Logbook Reflection – Students recall, recount, and reflect on the lesson through their logbooks. What did they learn about the importance of promotional material in theatre? Ask them to Think, Pair, Share their responses with the remainder of the class.
This is an introductory lesson to promotion and program in theatre. Students are later given the opportunity to apply their learning and understanding to their own poster and flyer design for the given play as part of their formal assessment.
“When we recognise that true understanding of a discipline involves learning its processes and ways of thinking as well as its content knowledge, then we naturally create opportunities for developing those abilities.”
― Ron Ritchhart, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools
As teachers we constantly strive to ensure our students understand. Following on from my earlier post on Cultures of Thinking please see the below routines focussed on understanding. These routines assist in connecting, interpreting and organising students knowledge. Detailed descriptions of each routine can be found here. These ideas are not my own, but a valuable resource which I believe should be shared and widely embraced. Please feel free to print them and display them in your classroom.
(All images have been sourced from Unsplash.)
This lesson has been created using a core Visible Thinking Routine, primarily – See, Think, Wonder – as a platform for student-centred learning and deep thinking. As drama is essentially about how an audience responds to what they see, think and wonder, I often add a feel prompt.
I have taught this lesson twice now as part of the Preliminary Course and have been struck by the level of engagement and thoughtfulness of the students participating. I used to teach this lesson using slides of different sets, videos of interviews with set designers and class discussion, but this is substantially more effective and meaningful.
Various pieces of staging, costuming, props etc. (Note: You do not need much!)
Music if you wish
1. Pre-set – Create a basic set for viewing. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it must tell a story. For example, in this set I included a suitcase, clothing, burnt out tea lights, paintbrushes, an old chair, a photo of a beautiful lady, old frames etc.
You may also add other production elements such as lighting or music. Divide a large piece of butcher’s paper into four columns – See, Think, Wonder and Feel. Place the butcher’s paper and textas in front of the set.
2. Explanation – Prior to viewing the set ensure the students understand the routine. If it is the first time using the routine they may need more specific detail, otherwise just recap. Ask students to write their answers collaboratively on the butcher’s paper. As they are writing they can also read the response of others and if they agree or have a similar thought they are encouraged to place a tick beside the other response. Explain to them that it must be done in silence and they are not to engage in verbal discussion. I also find this works more effectively if you give them absolutely no indication of what they are looking at or why they are looking at it. I don’t even mention the word ‘set’ at this stage.
3. The Reveal – Reveal the set. Give them a defined time to just look, not write. I encourage them to move around the front of the set so they do not miss anything. Students begin to write in silence.
4. Processing – I generally gauge how long they write based on my popcorn cooking methodology. When the writing becomes sporadic and begins to die down it is time to stop. Sit with the students and read some of the responses out loud from each column. Do not discuss them, just read them and let them float in the air.
5. Responding – Give each student a blank piece of paper and a texta. Ask them to stay silent and move to their own personal space in the room. Reflecting on all they have written, read and observed students are asked to imagine they are the character that inhabits this space. Students write a creative response as that character. Emphasise that there is no right or wrong answer. You may give them a writing prompt to get them started if you feel it is needed. (Eg. My name is….. and this is my home.) Ask them to explain this characters story in their response. They write silently. Again, judge the timing by watching the rapidness of the writing.
6. Performing – Ask students to re-read their responses quietly thinking about how their character would talk, walk, sit, and gesture? Gather students to the front of the set again. Give students the opportunity to walk into the set as their character and read part or all of their response. This should be done in a focussed and committed manner. They should place themselves in the set as their character and perform for their classmates. You will find that you have very different characters as a result of the exercise.
7. Evaluating – Ask students to comment on the exercise. What do they think the purpose of this exercise was? What conclusions did they come to? What questions do they still have? Introduce them to the purpose of set design Eg. To set the mood/tone of the play; suggest the style of the play; create the world of the characters; indicate time, place and situation. Discuss these ideas in relation to the set they have been working with.
8. Application – Break the class into two teams. As a team they must design a new set. It can be abstract or realistic, but it must be purposeful. It should create the world of the play, set the mood and define the time, place and situation. They can use anything they can find in the space, however it must differ from the set they have already analysed. They are to construct their set and when complete reveal it to the other group. During the reveal of the newly constructed sets, use See, Think, Wonder, Feel as verbal prompts to promote discussion of each other’s set. Ask the group that created the set if there was anything in the responses that surprised them. (You will find the audience will imply much more than the designers have thought about!).
9. Scene Work – Each group must create a short scene that can take place in the other groups set. (Eg. Group A creates a scene for Group B’s set and visa versa.) They have ten minutes to devise their scene. Each group performs for the remainder of the class. Students respond to each performance using the prompts I noticed… / I liked… / I wonder… .
10. Logbook Reflection – Students recall, recount, and reflect on the lesson through their logbooks. What did they learn about the importance of set design in theatre? Ask them to Think, Pair, Share their responses with the remainder of the class.
This lesson is an introductory lesson leading into the practical skills required to design set such as stage plans, scale drawing, working with other production departments etc. It provides a sound basis for these practical skills and scaffolds effectively the purpose of set in the theatre.
You know you have had a good day when you arrive home to a thank you email from a parent that says, “She loved the session and said it was her best afternoon of school ever!” . The email was referring to a process drama which I ran with a beautiful group of year 5 and 6 students and believe me when I say I had an awesome time too.
A few things to note:
How did the kids feel throughout the workshop?
They wrote: happy, calm, great, peaceful, safe and my favourite JOYFUL!
Their favourite bits?
The bamboo sticks (overwhelmingly), 'feeling like Sadako felt', pretending and the post-card pictures.
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes - A Process Drama for Year 5 and 6 Students
This process drama is based on the story Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. It was originally written to enhance the engagement of students with additional needs in literacy including reading, writing and comprehension. It is also intended to develop the self-confidence, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration skills of the young people involved.
1. Warm-Up - A getting to know you activity is advise for groups that are new at working together to be completed before the warm up. Today I played Name Balloon to physically warm-up students and learn their names, but any physical game to move students into the space of Drama can be selected.
2. Contract - If the students are new to Drama, begin by establishing the guidelines for today’s workshop. Each student can contribute a rule or thought to a class contract. (Eg. Today we will listen to each others ideas.) These points should come from the students themselves - not from the teacher. Also, use this moment to let the students know that you will be playing characters at different points in the workshop. You will clearly indicate this by changing your clothing or adding an accessory. Giving them a heads up saves confusion!
3. Around the World - Students are broken into teams of four or five. Explain to students that you have cards with country names written on them. Each group will get a card. They need to create a physical postcard (still frame) to reflect what they know about that country. (If you like they an use additional items in the space. I had material, sticks and umbrellas handy.) They will only have 30 seconds to create the postcard. Once the postcards are created the rest of the class will guess what country each image is portraying. When the students guess ask the question, ‘What makes you say that?” You can have one or two rounds of this but the final postcard presented should be Japan. (We will return to this postcard later.)
4. Bamboo Balance - Each student is given a bamboo stick and asked to find their own space in the room. Explain to the students that this is a game of focus. They must balance the stick on one of their fingers for as long as they can. When they can hold it on their finger of choice comfortably ask them to try the other hand. Students can also advance to balancing it on their elbow, shoulder, forehead or foot. Once the students have participated in this activity for a good length of time, stop and speak about the experience. Students are prompted to begin the discussion using the sentence “I noticed that…”. You can scribe the responses on the butcher’s paper. Eg. I noticed that when I became distracted by other person in the room I dropped my bamboo stick. I noticed that sometimes had to move forward in order to keep the stick from falling. (Question is drawn from Ron Richhardt’s Visible Thinking Routines). Ask them to imagine that they are word leaders, (leaders of the countries they just portrayed in their postcards) and that their stick represents their country. Ask them to stand and balance their stick again, but if they drop the stick that means that the country they are leading will experience war, illness, hatred and despair. Students are disqualified one by one until the final country falls. Ask the students what they felt as they tried to keep their country afloat. Document their answers on butcher’s paper. (Eg. Responsible, pressure, stressed!). Introduce students to the Japanese saying: Saru mo ki kara ochiru - Even monkeys fall from trees. How could this relate to world leaders?
5. The Bombing of Hiroshima - Ask the students to sit with their postcard group from earlier and form a new image using their bodies and any items they can find in the space. This time their picture must portray the word ‘war’. Once they have their image ask the class to sit in a circle next to their group members. This is a performance carousel (Patricia Baldwin, 2015). Explain to them that as we move around the circle each group will show one of their postcard images from the first task and then when the teacher says, Saru mo ki kara ochiru (Even monkeys fall from trees) the students melt into their image of war. Then they melt back into their position in the circle and the next group forms their postcard and so on with the last group showing Japan. Once Japan has melted into war read the following, When they bombed Hiroshima, the explosion formed a mini-supernova, so every living animal, human or plant that received direct contact with the rays from that sun was instantly turned to ash. And what was left of the city soon followed. The long-lasting damage of nuclear radiation caused an entire city and its population to turn into powder. (Sarah Kay). (For dramatic effect I would cover the melted group with a white sheet and open an umbrella like a cloud of dust above them). Explain to the students (maybe as you remove the white sheet and shut the umbrella) that the nuclear radiation caused by the bomb in Hiroshima, Japan left a poison in the air, inside people and made them very sick. The atom bomb disease was called leukaemia and touch people for many years to come. (As you explain about the atom bomb disease transform into the character of Sadako. Make this transformation clear by adding a piece of costuming or a prop. I added a red ribbon to my hair.)
6. Sadako - Teacher steps into role as Sadako. Sadako introduces herself. She talks about running; Peace Day held on the 6th August every year; how her grandmother was killed in the bombings (Oba chan); how she prays for her spirit every morning; how she loves her family her brother Masahiro and two sisters Mitsue and Eiji; her best friend Chizuko; and how she got picked for the big race on field day. Once the teacher finishes she steps out of character and shows the class an enlarged image of the illustration on pg 23. Ask the students how they think Sadako feels at this point? Reinforce the discussion with the question, ‘What makes you say that?’After the discussion read from page 22, “From then on Sadako only thought of one thing….” to the end of chapter 3.
7. The Atom Bomb Disease - Ask students to look at an enlarged image of pg 31. Ask the students firstly, “What do you see?”, “What do you think?”, “What does this image make you feel?” (Based losely on a Visible Thinking Routine). Explain that Sadako has the Atom Bomb Disease - Leukaemia. She had collapsed at school one day. She now has to stay in hospital to receive treatment. Ask half the students to move to one end of the room. Give each of them a golden piece of paper. Tell them they are about to visit a sick friend in hospital who they are very worried about and they need a gift to take. Ask them to make something with the golden paper to take as a gift. Then, as they are making their gifts, line the other students up in a straight line and explain to the remainder of the students that they are going to pretend that they are sick and in hospital. Explain to them they are not happy about this. They don’t think it is fair; they want to be outside playing with their friends. Give each student a hospital name band (a red piece of ribbon) to tie around their wrist. Tell them they will receive a visitor soon. How will they respond when the visitor comes in? Ask the visitors to come in and line up opposite the patients with their golden present. Explain to the students that they are about to have a conversation with their friend. They must play the character they have been given and respond appropriately. The students act out their conversations pair by pair while the other groups watch as audience. Once each pair has had a turn move the students into a circle and question the students about their experience. Eg. How did you feel when your friend came to visit you in hospital? Were you happy or sad to see them? What makes you say that? Why did you bring that specific gift? Did you think that gift could make your friend well again? Pull out a beautiful paper crane and place it in the circle. Read from page 34, “That afternoon Chizuko…” through to page 36, “…strong enough to go home.”
8. Paper Cranes - Give each student a piece of origami paper. Teach them to fold a paper crane. Once they have finished move back into a circle holding the paper cranes. Ask the students to close their eyes and listen to your voice. As you read the following place a kimono, candle and your paper crane from earlier in the centre of the circle. “Everyone saved paper for Sadako even her nurse, nurse Yasunaga. She said to Sadako, ‘After you finish a thousand paper cranes, you will live to be an old lady.’ Sadako kept folding, hoping all the time that the cranes would bring her a miracle… four hundred and sixty three, four hundred and sixty four…but gradually the atom bomb disease took away Sadako’s energy….I will get better she said sleepily… (read from pg 57 “The leaves on the maple tree….to fold only one paper crane”)…As you hold your paper crane I would like you to think of some words of hope for Sadako. Slowly open your eyes and one by one I want you to place your crane with Chizuko’s in the centre and share with us your words of hope for Sadako.” The students bring forth their cranes one by one sharing their words of hope.
9. Goodbye Sadako - Place an enlarged image of pg 63 in the centre of the circle with the cranes. Ask again, “What do you see?”, “What do you think?”, “What does this image make you feel?” After you have heard their responses, read the last two paragraphs of the story and blow out the candle. Ask the students to find a partner and sit opposite their partner. One of the students is going to play one of Sadako’s family members (her mother, brother, sister, father or even her best friend.) The other is going to play Sadako. Ask the students to imagine that they are meeting in a dream after Sadako’s death. What would they say to each other? How would Sadako comfort her family? How would they respond? How would they say goodbye to each other at the end of the conversation? If the group is capable ask the students to take 10 seconds between each response in the conversation to slow it right down. This allows thinking time and also encourages listening (Note: This is harder then you would think!). As the students begin their conversations, move around and listen in. After they have had time to speak with each other, ask one or two pairs to perform their conversations for the class. Ask the audience to comment on the performances using the prompts ‘I like…’ and ‘I wonder…’ .
10. Prayer for Peace - Tell the students that Sadako’s story is a true story. Remind them of the cause of her illness referring to the postcard transitions into war. Tell the students about Sadako’s class mates and how they made 356 more cranes so that a thousand were buried with her. They also worked together to build a monument to her and all the children who will killed by the atom bomb. A statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was placed in Hiroshima Peace Park with the words “This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.” Ask the students to find a new partner. Give each pair one of the bamboo sticks and ask them to place it between them using only one finger on each end to hold it up. Ask the students to move slowly through the space keeping their bamboo stick from falling. Eventually join the pairs together until the whole group is moving slowly through the space connected by their bamboo sticks. Once the students have participated in this activity for a good length of time, stop and speak about the experience like you did the first time you used the bamboo sticks. Students are prompted to begin the discussion using the sentence “I noticed that…”. Scribe the responses on the butcher’s paper. Compare the responses with the sheet of butchers paper from the first activity. This time you might get response like… “I noticed that it was easier to keep the bamboo from falling when we were working together.” Ask the students to do the activity again, this time once again imagining they are world leaders and the bamboo represents the countries of the world. Once attempted ask them how this was different then the first time. Relate the responses back to Sadako’s statue… this is our prayer, peace in the world. Ask the question, how can we work together to bring about peace in our world?
11. Sadako’s Superpower - I like to think of Sadako as a superhero working for peace. Explain this to the students. Her superpower was hope; with each crane she folded she had hope. Her hope was inspiring. Ask the students think for a moment about what their special superpower might be that can help bring about peace in the world. Give them a minute thinking time prompting them to think about how that superpower can make a difference in this world. You may need to give them some examples. After some thinking time ask them to share their superpower with a partner, explaining why they think this superpower can make a difference. Once they have done this, give each student a tea light ask them to light them one by one as they share with the group their name, super power and how that super power is going to make a difference. (Eg. I am Amy and my superpower is love. I have chosen love because it is the opposite to hate and if we abolish hate maybe we can find peace.)
12. Reflection - Gather together as a group to reflect on the workshop. Give each student a post-it note and ask them to write down the moment that they connected with the most throughout the workshop and one word they feel describes their experience today. Once they have written their words the students may share either their word or experience with the whole group. Finish the workshop by giving each student a quote on peace. Ask each student to read it quietly to themselves. Once by one get each student to stand up and read their quote with expression. After they finished read the words, “This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.”
Some of the music I used to enhance this workshop included:
Tan Dun/ Yo Yo Ma Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Theme
Hans Zimmer Sorrow (Gladiator Soundtrack)
Hans Zimeer Earth (Gladiator Soundtrack)
Drehz Heart Cry
Yiruma River Flows in You
Piano Guys Fight Song/ Amazing Grace
Glee Cast, Imagine
For more information on the Visible Thinking Routines check out - Visible Thinking.
Amy Gill -