I had the pleasure of filling in for a Grade 2 teacher this week, and thought I’d change some of the lesson plans to include a thinking routine.

The class used the Visible Thinking Routine Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate to help invite students into the unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet. Students will investigate the role of invertebrates, and the relationship between humans and invertebrates. Part of the inquiry is to pre-assess what students know about invertebrates and if they can sort them.

The class began the thinking routine by asking students what they knew about invertebrates. Students then generated a collection of invertebrates on paper.


Together, students sorted the invertebrates into categories they created. Students were asked to explain their thinking throughout the sorting process.

They sorted the invertebrates in the following categories:

lives in water

has a shell

has wings

doesn’t move



Once the students sorted the invertebrates we looked at the book Animals Without Backbones . Students then began re-sorting the invertebrate based on this new knowledge. Once they were re-sorted, students labeled each category.

Our new categories, are sorted the scientific way, with the following headings:








Next, students made connections between the groups, again being asked to explain what they were thinking. Finally, students elaborated on their groups by adding other invertebrates to the categories.


Since what the students originally thought were categories differed from the way they are categorized, students were asked to end the activity with I used to think….Now I think….. as a way of showing them how their thinking changed with a little bit of inquiry. Some responses were:

I used to think only insects were invertebrates. Now I think there are more animals.

I used to think all invertebrates were in one group. Now I think there are more groups.

I used to think all flying insects and sea invertebrates were another group. Now I think they are all mixed up.

I used to think all sea animals were in the same group. Now I think they are all different.

I used to think all invertebrates had shells. Now I think all invertebrates are different.