Nurturing a Culture of Thinking Reflection Activity

Nurturing a Culture of Thinking From the Start

Nurturing a Culture of Thinking Reflection ActivityVisible Thinking is about helping students become better thinkers. The way our students think and their disposition towards thinking, are each greatly influenced by the culture of our schools and classrooms. When thinking is valued and protected, students and teachers will come to realize that real learning is not about facts, but about the exploration of ideas*.

Ron Ritchhart identified eight forces that impact the culture of thinking, each with the power to stifle or promote thoughtful learning. Below are Ritchhart’s Cultural Forces, his commentary, and some of my thoughts mixed in there.

Ron Ritchhart's 8 Cultural Forces

8 Cultural Forces

1. Time: Allow students time to explore ideas and time to respond to questions asked. Don’t forget about the second wait time students need in order to reflect after a response is given.

2. Opportunities: Create purposeful activities to explore ideas. Implement learning design that promotes inquiry. Students can’t deepen their thinking if they are only given shallow requests.

3. Structures & Routines: Use Thinking Routines, patterns of conversation, and other tools to make student thinking visible. Over time, these routines can become engrained habits that will stay with students for a lifetime of learning.

4. Language: Use a language of thinking and reflection with your students. Ideas like metacognition and wait time could be explained to your students (no matter their age).

5. Modeling: Model who you are as a thinker to your students. Share, discuss, and make your own thought process visible.

6. Interactions & Relationships: Create a safe place for thinking and sharing, through collaborative inquiry and continual reaffirmation of the value of thinking.

7. Physical Environment: Arrange the space to facilitate thoughtful interactions. The way a room is set up can say a lot to our students about whose ideas are valued.

8. Expectations: Share clear expectations for the level of thought required for a learning activity. Keep the priority on thinking and learning, not on regurgitating information and completing work.

I believe it is important to reflect on these forces as they apply to the culture we create in our classrooms, schools, boardrooms, presentations, and any interactions we have with “learners”. I created the reflection activity to help myself and the educators I work with, as we strive to nurture a culture of thinking. I spent some time trying out the activity and ended up with some changes I’d like to implement in every single category.

Reflecting on a Culture of Thinking

A culture of thinking doesn’t develop spontaneously. It takes intentionality.  I hope this reflection activity will encourage my teachers to experiment with, and be mindful of, the forces that impact student thinking.

Sidenotes:

Ron Ritchhart’s newest book, Creating Cultures of Thinking, is due out in 2015

*This is a paraphrasing of a quote from Rosamaria Díaz-Vélez, professor in the online Making Thinking Visible Course- Fall 2013

 

Why I can’t stop talking about Visible Thinking

Many approaches to encouraging better thinking are abilities-centric, but Visible Thinking is about fostering dispositions of thought, creating a Culture of Thinking, and bringing students to the center of the learning conversation.

Visible Thinking Quote

I think it is vital to share the message and practices of Visible Thinking, especially as they apply to innovation and creativity in the classroom. Visible Thinking promotes the simultaneous development of non-cognitive and cognitive skills, something few other instructional frameworks can truly claim. The strategies are also not dependent on a certain subject area, curriculum, student demographic, or technology infrastructure. Visible Thinking can be implemented in a class with one iPad, a thousand Chromebooks, or ten sticky notes. There are no excuses to limit adoption.

One of the basic tools of the Visible Thinking framework is a series of Thinking Routines, simple patterns of conversation, or protocols, which encourage a spirit of inquiry, reflection, and metacognition. I created the resource below to help the teachers and students I work with as they pursue a Culture of Thinking. My plan is to use it when introducing Thinking Routines as part of an exploration activity. I am hoping these routines will become part of their reflective toolkit, a natural part of their questioning strategy and, eventually, a given in their classroom culture.

Visible Thinking Prompt Picker

This can be cut and folded into one of those fortune teller things or you could punch a hole and put a spinner on it and have teachers or students explore the routines they land on and share where they might be best used.

For the VT Research Buffs: I know they aren’t really prompts, but I thought the word protocols might scare people.

Clarification: Since I plan to use this when teaching about the routines the randomized selection works. When using to actually select a routine to use… the randomized deal doesn’t so much work since there are more appropriate times to use each routine. Proceed with caution–you’ve been warned. 

The Visible Thinking framework and Thinking Routines can be found at http://visiblethinkingpz.org