Starting with Routines

Perhaps the easiest way to get started with Visible Thinking is to simply start using the thinking routines.

The routines are a central element of the practical, functional and accessible nature of Visible Thinking. Thinking routines are easy to use mini-strategies that are repeatedly used in the classroom. They are a small set of questions or a short sequence of steps that can be used across various grade levels and content. Each routine targets a different type of thinking and by bringing their own content, teachers integrate the routines into the fabric of their classrooms.

Routines help direct student thinking and structure classroom discussion. For example, if your students are reading a novel about Colonial America you could use the Here Now, There Then routine to elicit student thoughts on how the role of women have changed from 18th century America to the present day. Or, you could choose the Circle of Viewpoints routine to help students explore diverse viewpoints or perspectives of characters within the novel. Both of these Fairness routines target perspective taking – thinking that is central to the ideal of Fairness but also important across all the modules. Thinking becomes visible as these different viewpoints are expressed, documented, discussed and reflected upon.

There is no one routine that is the "best" to begin with, but it is easy enough to jump in! On this site the routines are organized by the four Thinking Ideals of Truth Fairness, Creativity and Understanding. Begin by thinking about your subject matter or topic. Try to identify a routine from one of the ideals that might elicit the particular kind of thinking you want to foreground.

When visiting the routine pages you will notice that each routine is described in a one page overview that can be downloaded by clicking printer-friendly icon. The routine overview provide suggestions for use and tips for getting started. Each routine is also illustrated with a Picture of Practice page that show exmples, images and/or vides clips from real classrooms, and a Connections and Extensions page that give ideas for follow up activities.

There is also a core rotuines section – a small set of accessible routines that target different types of thinking from across the modules. This is a good place to start if you uncertain about how to begin with one of the routines from the ideals. These are easy to integrate routines that classroom teachers tend to use regularly.

For a more information go to the Thinking Routines section.