Thinking Deeply with All Students


In his book High Impact Instruction, Jim Knight does a fabulous job creating a framework for teachers to create a phenomenal classroom learning environment.  The book discusses how to plan, design and support deep learning in your classroom.

Chapter five is Thinking Prompts.  The chapter begins with two quotes:

How can one learn the truth by thinking?  As one learns to see a face better if one draws it.”   Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Thinking is where intelligent actions begin.  we pause long enough to look more carefully at a situation, to see more of its character, to think about why it’s happening, to notice how it’s affecting us and others. “  Margaret Wheatley

Thinking prompts are devices that provoke conversation, dialogue, and deep thought.  They can include video clips, works of art, artifacts, photographs, problems, articles, experiences.  They should be chosen for impact because they are provocative, complex, positive, concise or relevant.  Additionally, they:

  • promote dialogue
  • help students make connections
  • provide background knowledge
  • engage students

I’ve recently been part of the Cultures of Thinking movement in our county.  The thinking routines out of Project Zero at Harvard are wonderful thinking prompts that people are finding very helpful.  Lesson design using these routines can provide opportunities for deep thinking and learning  in any content area.

The real beauty, to me, is that every student can participate at their own level.  Differentiation happens WITHOUT much effort on the teacher’s part.  Additionally, conversations students with learning challenges have with peers pushes them to think more deeply.  I believe there are opportunities for students with IEPs to go places never thought possible before.  No need to modify because thinking routines automatically accommodate everyone!Additionally, more than one teacher has said to me that thinking routines have made them think differently about students with challenges.  Assessment has changed because the teacher saw just how much the student was capable of when the innate barriers of  traditional reading and writing prompts were removed using routines.  Formative assessment is borne out of this process.

Students with reading and writing challenges rarely reveal the thinking behind their learning.  Pencils and books prevent them from showing how deeply they CAN think.  Using thinking routines can allow all kids to blossom quite naturally.

Check them out, please!


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