Visible Thinking Routines — Powerful Strategies for Learning

see think wonder

Grade 4 students use the See Think Wonder routine

Visible Thinking Routines are relatively simple, but powerful strategies for organizing and seeing learning in action.

Harvard’s Project Zero Site has a great introduction to Thinking Routines:

“Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich. These routines are simple structures, for example a set of questions or a short sequence of steps, that can be used across various grade levels and content. What makes them routines, versus merely strategies, is that they get used over and over again in the classroom so that they become part of the fabric of classroom’ culture. The routines become the ways in which students go about the process of learning.

Thinking routines form the core of the Visible Thinking program. What makes these routines work to promote the development of a students thinking and the classroom culture are that each routine:

  • Is goal oriented in that it targets specific types of thinking
  • Gets used over and over again in the classroom
  • Consists of only a few steps
  • Is easy to learn and teach
  • Is easy to support when students are engaged in the routine
  • Can be used across a variety of context
  • Can be used by the group or by the individual

Routines are really just patterns of action that can be integrated and used in a variety of contexts. You might even use more than one routine in teaching a single lesson. Thus, you shouldn’t think about the routine as taking time away from anything else you are doing, they should actually enhance what you are trying to do in the classroom.” Read more from their site here.¬†

Another great source on making thinking visible can be found in this ISSUU by Frank Curkovic.

You can also get a good overview of thinking routines in the Vimeo clip below:


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