Thinking Routines

I have had a lot of ideas floating through my head. I have lists of things to write about. LISTS is not an exaggeration either. I have lists on my computer; lists on my phone; lists on post-its in my paper planner. I seem to have more ideas than I have time to flesh out. Now that comment writing season is behind me, I hope that I will have more time to write.

In the meantime, I have two small personal goals for my classroom: get the kids to think for themselves, and get them out of their seats and moving. In the last few years, I have faced a conundrum. It seemed like any time I asked students to think and make connections they fight me. I can’t even tell you how many times I have had my classroom fall quiet for a few seconds after I pose a question only to have a student abruptly say, “Oh, Mrs. Lindsay, just tell us what to write down.” Even years after attending Project Zero, participating in workshops with Grant Wiggins, and facilitating numerous other professional development opportunities; I would feel like I had run out of ideas to get kids to look at the subject differently. I struggled with how to go deeper, yet “teach” all of the content with our rushed schedule. Defeated, I would do what many teachers had clearly done before me. I would give them the answer. I felt and still feel that this was not the purpose of education at all.

For me, there was another underlying concern as well. Because my students were constantly taking notes or “doing” a project, they rarely moved. While I rarely have behavior issues in my class, I knew this was not appropriate for this age group. I have a hard time sitting still for an hour myself. So, as a result, I have been trying to find opportunities to get the kids thinking more and moving more. Sometimes the solutions are simple and low-tech.

For this thinking routine, I wanted kids to make connections between one idea and another regarding the fall of Rome. The idea was for the students to realize that there wasn’t just ONE cause for the fall of Rome in the Western Empire. So, I had the students use post-it notes to attach to the white board in the classroom. They were constantly moving between their seats to review their notes, consult with a friend and read other students’ post-its. Then, they would add their own. For an hour, every student was engaged. They consulted with one another, and I rarely saw any students off-task. I moved about with them as well. The solution was simple and effective. Students raved about the class time and felt they understood the idea more easily because as one student said, “they interacted with the information instead of being told what to think.” Funny how the tides have turned.

Sketchnoting

UPDATE: I had a hard time getting great images of this activity to share. In my opinion, the process went very well. Some students loved it. Others didn’t care at all. In general, students learned yet another way to improve their comprehension. Those students who embraced it continued to use this methodology throughout the school year even when it was assigned.

I will be introducing formal sketchnoting to my seventh-grade classes this week.

According to Kathy Schrock:

Sketchnoting, in its purest form, is creating a personal visual story as one is listening to a speaker or reading a text. I also believe the interactive notebook, which includes the process of taking “regular” notes” while listening to a speaker and later creating a sketchnote of the text notes, would also be considered sketchnoting. This page will provide links, ideas, tips,and research evidence dealing with the power of sketchnoting.

I will give more details about how we accomplish this task. For older students, I would give less guidelines. However, given the age of these students and that this is a newer concept, I will give more framework for the concept. Students will have the choice of device and/or app. All finished products will be uploaded to their Google Drive to be shared with me and fellow classmates.

Intro presentation:

https://www.haikudeck.com/e/H0i3rUk0tK/?isUrlHashEnabled=false&isPreviewEnabled=false&isHeaderVisible=false
Sketchnoting – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires