Today I’m continuing the Professional Development series about how principals, school leaders, and teachers can implement thinking routines in schools. This article outlines how educators can use the HeadlinesThinking Routine to engage students in visible thinking.
Here is a brief synopsis of the text: Beginning at Harvard's Project Zero, Visible Thinking is a research-based approach to teaching students' thinking skills. Visible Thinking is about teaching students thinking "routines" to improve thinking and comprehension abilities. By making thinking visible students can discuss and reflect on their own thinking, as well as, the thinking of their peers. Through reflective thinking and discourse, deeper understanding of the topic or subject should increase.
To learn more about how I got started using Making Thinking Visible, read the first article in this professional development series.
How Teachers Can Use Visible Thinking Routines
If you are a teacher, each individual visible thinking routine will help your students deepen their comprehension. The book divides the “thinking routines” into three categories:
1. Routines for Introducing and Exploring Ideas
2. Routines for Synthesizing and Organizing Ideas
3. Routines for Digging Deeper into Ideas
There are 21 “thinking routines” suggested in the book, with seven in each of the three categories. Every month I will highlight a visible thinking routine from Making Thinking Visible and how I have used it with my classes.
How Principals Can Use Visible Thinking Routines
If you are a principal, this text would be a great choice for a school-wide professional book study and/or a staff development project. Not only would you provide your staff with an invaluable resource, you will most likely increase the level of thinking within the student body. Here's how it will benefit you personally:
As you do school walk-throughs or observations, Making Thinking Visible will give you something to target as you enter classrooms.
By focusing on the “thinking routines” you should find that your teachers observations are easier, because the staff will know what is expected of them.
It will also help you provide feedback to your staff as you focus specifically on the “thinking routines.”
Thinking Routine of the Month: Headlines
Headlines is a routine for capturing essence. This routine encourages students to use newspaper-type headlines as a vehicle for summing up the essence of what they've learned about a topic. The routine asks one core question:
If you were to write a headline for this topic/lesson/unit/event right now that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would the headline be?
The purpose of writing headlines is to have your students reflect and synthesize after studying a concept. It can be used as a follow-up after reading a book, completing a unit, and finishing an individual lesson or activity. The goal is for the students to decide what is most important about a topic they have been studying and to incorporate the big idea(s) into their headline. Their headlines should show an understanding of a topic, rather than just be a list of catchy phrases.
Headlines is one of the most commonly used “thinking routines” at my school. It is an easy and fun assessment tool that can be used to evaluate which students have grasped the big idea from a lesson or unit of study, and which haven’t. Headlines makes for a great bulletin board that allows other classes, teachers, and parents to see what your students are studying.
Introducing the Headlines Thinking Routine to Students
This is how the Headlines thinking routine works:
Instruct your students to think about the big ideas or important themes in an area you are studying.
Have the students write a headline for this concept that encompasses the significance of this topic.
Before you have your students write their headlines, have them brainstorm about some of the central or big ideas from their learning. Students can then write their headlines individually, with partners, or in small groups. It is important to allow your students to share their headlines in order to promote additional understandings within your class. Creating headlines about a concept allows students to consider the topic from different perspectives. It also encourages making connections in related concepts to be studied in the future.
Available for download is the Headlines Organizer. This organizer provides your students with a space to list big ideas about the topic studied and to generate possible headlines before deciding on a final headline. I like to have my students write their final headline on a sentence strip to then hang on a bulletin board.