You can read below (in great detail 😉 about how I got involved with Making Thinking Visible and how I have continually dug deeper. If you’d like to cut straight to the “lessons learned,”  here you go:


READ: Figure out what the research (and researchers) say.

USE: Try out the new ideas you’re reading about. Be a risk-taker!

REFLECT: Document and reflect on the new ideas you’ve been trying out.

SHARE: Share your reflections with the colleagues around you. Then, go to Facebook, Twitter, and the Blogosphere and share with the larger professional community too.

CONNECT: As you share your reflections with others, listen to what they have to say. Adapt your practices based on their feedback. Take their ideas and adapt them to fit your context.


Now, a detailed look at how I got involved with Making Thinking Visible …

March 2013: I attend the IB PYP workshop Teaching and Learning co-led by Aija Kins & Rosanne Boutin (@boutinib) and experience some thinking routines. A fellow PYP Coordinator Nancy Gerber (@nancygerber5) introduces me to Project Zero’s Visible Thinking website.

April-June 2013: I return to my third grade classroom and try out some of the routines that I experienced at the workshop, like “Chalk Talk” and “I used to think…, Now I think…”

August 2013: My colleague Nancy tells me about this great book she just purchased and encourages me to buy it too. I go straight to Amazon and buy Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Morrison, and Church. I read PART ONE: Some Thinking About Thinking and flip through PART TWO: Using Thinking Routines to Make Thinking Visible.

September 2013: For our Professional Learning Community (PLC) goal, Nancy and I decide to encourage the use of the thinking routines by trying to get teachers to use at least one thinking routine in 70% of our Units of Inquiry in our PYP schools. (SPOILER ALERT: By the end of the year, we met our goal!)

October 2013: At the first Professional Development day of the year, I introduce the staff with whom I work to several thinking routines, like “Compass Points” and encourage teachers to use these thinking routines back in their classrooms. Throughout the year, teachers experience other thinking routines at PD days.

At that same PD day in October, I begin to give away copies of MTV as part of a raffle. Teachers continue to “win” the books throughout the year.

February 2014: To observe and document best teaching practices in order to connect one good idea to other educators, I begin the blog Making Teaching Visible. I highlight teachers’ use of thinking routines as well as other great teaching practices going on in the school where I work.

Summer 2014: I finish reading the rest of MTV to prepare to lead a book club of the text with about 20 teachers from our school. We use the 4Cs to document our thinking about PART ONE. We decide which of the routines from PART TWO we could use right away. At our third meeting in the fall, teachers bring back examples of how they have used one of the routines and we discuss the forces that shape culture from PART THREE.

I teach a class of sixth graders during summer school and try out some routines with them, like “Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate: Concept Maps” to create our Essential Agreement. Students also use “The Micro Lab Protocol” to give their peers feedback.

September 2014: I join the planning committee for Minnesota’s Leaders in Reading Network book club. Guess which book they’re digging into? Making Thinking Visible! I share my experience with the routines at the first book club event with over 100 literacy leaders from all over the state of Minnesota.

October 2014: I’m lucky enough to attend Project Zero Perspectives: Making, Thinking, Understanding (#PZSF). During the trip, I read Intellectual Character: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Get It also by Ritchhart and begin to get a better grasp on how developing a culture of thinking isn’t just about doing routines with kids.

I get to meet Dr. Ron Ritchhart and learn how other educators around the country are using thinking routines to make their students’ thinking visible and create cultures of thinking.

I learn about Global Thinking Routines that Melissa Rivard (@molissarivard) developed with fellow researchers Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Flossie Chua as part of their work on Project Zero’s Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Project. One routine she shares is Step In & Back, a routine I end up using with students back at my school.

Denise Coffin (@teamcoffin) shares all the work she’s doing to make her Kindergarteners’ thinking visible.

Kaity O’Riordan (@Kaity_ORiordan), Ellen Cale (@ellen_cale), and Shari Pawlus (@spawlus) share the work they’re doing with teachers in the Troy (MI) School District to develop cultures of thinking.

Researchers from Agency by Design (@AgencybyDesign) share thinking routines they’ve been using as part of their work at Project Zero, like “Parts, Purposes, and Complexities”.

Karen Sinclair & Jodi Yeloushan from Pine Knob Elementary (Clarkston Community Schools) share the thinking routines they’ve been using with their students

March 2015: Waiting by the front door for Ritchhart’s next book Creating Cultures of Thinking to arrive from Amazon!