Thinking Routines are mini strategies that guide learners’ thought processes
What are they?
Thinking routines are not add-ons or additional activities to teach to your class, but rather scaffold the kind of thinking you would like to take place. They should be integrated naturally into your classroom practices. Therefore, choose thinking routines that work best for your classroom culture – knowing fewer routines really well may be better than using a lot and not knowing them well at all.
Thinking moves can be directed at knowledge retention and memorization as well as used to help one understand. Specific thinking strategies and processes enable learners to construct understanding, providing opportunities for learners to develop flexibility in their thinking.
Take a look at how the thinking routine, CSI (Color-Symbol-Image), has been used in different learning situations.
What do you notice? What specific thinking moves are being applied?
CSI’s in the Making!
CSI is a thinking routine for synthesizing and organizing ideas by capturing the heart through metaphors. The use of metaphors allows learners to be creative in their thinking, thus making deeper connections to the concept being studied.
In the first two examples, Grade 7 students applied their critical thinking skills to describe the essence of our enduring understanding for futsal. They used their CSI’s to create a blog post and shared their thinking with a partner.
- Being open-minded and taking risks are necessary for player development, and in turn build teamwork and a clearer understanding of the game
Whereas in the last two examples, participants in my visible thinking workshop were asked to describe themselves as learners and share their thinking with their group. In both situations, learners chose a color, symbol and image unique to their thinking and wrote a brief explanation as to what made them say that. Their use of metaphors demonstrates their creativity in delving deeper into the concept. Explaining their thinking by engaging in conversation allows learners to connect new ideas to their own thinking. A culture of thinking is created that is collaborative in nature.
How could this thinking routine be used in your classroom?
Thinking routines are tools
Just like any tool, “thinking routines must be applied, practiced and repeated in the right context and in skilled hands to see their potential.” – Making Thinking Visible, Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison
When you make your students’ thinking visible, use it as a natural progression for your next teaching move. This will give you a window into what students understand and how they are understanding it.