Demystifying the Process of Thinking by Making it Visible

Thinking routines are one of my favorite staples for learners of all ages. From Harvard’s Project Zero, thinking routines are incredibly easy to experiment with and will push students’ (and your own) thinking in ways you might not expect.

Katrina Schwarz wrote a introductory piece on thinking routines for Mindshift last spring:

“Amidst the discussions about content standards, curriculum and teaching strategies, it’s easy to lose sight of the big goals behind education, like giving students tools to deepen their quantitative and qualitative understanding of the world. Teaching for understanding has always been a challenge, which is why Harvard’s Project Zero has been trying to figure out how great teachers do it.

Some teachers discuss metacognition with students, but they often simplify the concept by describing only one of its parts — thinking about thinking. Teachers are trying to get students to slow down and take note of how and why they are thinking and to see thinking as an action they are taking. But two other core components of metacognition often get left out of these discussions — monitoring thinking and directing thinking. When a student is reading and stops to realize he’s not really understanding the meaning behind the words, that’s monitoring. And most powerfully, directing thinking happens when students can call upon specific thinking strategies to redirect or challenge their own thinking.

“When we have a rich meta-strategic base for our thinking, that helps us to be more independent learners,” said Project Zero senior research associate Ron Ritchhart at a Learning and the Brain conference. “If we don’t have those strategies, if we aren’t aware of them, then we’re waiting for someone else to direct our thinking.”  Read the rest of the piece here.


I have a particular affinity for the thinking routine, *see, think, wonder*.  Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear about it!




Introducing Kath Murdoch

Until the exact moment of writing, I didn’t know what I might serve for a first ever course in this blog.  And I thought of Kath Murdoch.  I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Kath, but I’ve followed her work for years. Each teacher I have had the fortune of sending to her workshops has come back inspired and in many ways changed. 

You can get a quick sample of her ideas from her blog, JustWondering, where she writes about inquiry and learning. You can see slides from past presentations, check out her Twitter feed, or for the curious with 20 minutes, you can check out her TED talk, The Power of Ummm.

Bon Appétit!