So, how many times have you had a student sit back in their chair during class and zone out? I know, this has probably never happened to you. But when I was in the classroom, I'd always wonder what this student was thinking. Are they lost? Are they learning? Are they listening? Are they breathing? In other words, how does a teacher KNOW what's going on inside the mind of a student during your class?
The Big Question: Learning is a consequence of thinking... so how do you know that students ARE thinking?
So, I found this book: Making Thinking Visible, by Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison. It was recommended to me by an instructional coach guru as a great "go to" for all teachers. It's a great book that's not filled with a lot of theoretical fluff, but it actually gives you specific strategies to help make student learning visible. The authors call them "learning routines". Here are a few of my favorites...
What makes you say that? : First of all, I think students have to understand the connections that are made when they are learning. This strategy is an easy one. Whenever a student gives you an answer, simply ask "what makes you say that?" This one question makes them connect previous knowledge to the answer they just gave.
The 4 C's: The 4 C's are a great way to prep for a class discussion, or a socratic seminar. After reading a short content-related passage, have the students write their thoughts down when considering these four questions:
Headlines: Have you ever asked a student to summarize what they just learned? It's really hard for them to narrow it down. Toward the end of a lesson, try having your students come up with a headline that would be the title of that day's learning to write on the board or jot down on their work.
For more strategies click here, which will take you to a pdf of the picture below. Click on the strategy, and you'll get a detailed explanation of how to use it in your classroom. I'd be happy to share the book, show some quick strategies, or to simply discuss how excited I am about the new Harry Potter movie. I'd love to learn more with you on how to make learning more visible to your students. -Miller
Melissa Miller | HS Instructional Coach
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