Friday, April 25, 2014


On Friday, March 28, 2014, I wrote about how first grade students made their thinking about rocks visible using the Visible Thinking Routine "Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate" from the book Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison. Here is the story of how second graders used that same routine to make their thinking about heroes visible:

For the last several weeks in second grade, students have been investigating how people influence the world. They have been inquiring into the characteristics of a hero as well as particular people who have made a difference in the world.

Throughout the inquiry, students continuously generated a list of influential people as they read, listened, learned, and discussed different heroes.

Toward the end of the unit, as a way to synthesize all they had learned, their teacher led the students through a learning engagement where students had to sort the influential heroes into particular categories that the students created. Some of the categories the students thought of matched categories we all would think of, when thinking of heroes: inventors, scientists, presidents, writers.

The students also sorted their heroes into less-conventional groups: risk-takers and speakers.

As students were grouping the influential people about whom they had learned, they started forming a group that they couldn't name. As the students struggled to identify a singular word that would help identify the unifying characteristic that all the individuals in the group shared, they came up with the phrase "Treated Unfairly".

However there were some "heroes" that students were planning on putting in that group, who weren't treated unfairly. That phrase described some, but not all, so they still needed another group! Students continued to struggle to identify a singular word that would help name that particular group of people, although they knew that there was something special about this group; they were all good people, hard workers, who tried to make a difference for other people, other humans. At this point, the teacher intervened and introduced the word humanitarian to the students.

As the students sorted their heroes into the categories they had established, they quickly realized that certain influential people easily belonged in multiple categories. Their teacher suggested they add those individuals to as many groups as was necessary.

Then, the class connected those heroes who showed up in different categories. On the lines that they used to connect the heroes in the different groups, the students wrote character traits, which often were the PYP attitudes (e.g. independent, confident, creativity) and attributes of the IB International Learner Profile (e.g. knowledgeable, thinker, risk-taker).

Now that students had generated a list of influential people, sorted those individuals into groups the students identified, and made connections between the groups with character traits, the teacher could invite students to continue learning about other heroes that might fit into those categories (elaborate).

"What other presidents could we learn about?"

"Are there other risk-takers that influenced the world that we haven't learned about yet?"

"Where could we find more information on different humanitarians?"

This invitation to students to reflect on their learning and to choose how they'll continue learning will increase the likelihood that students will engage in thoughtful and appropriate action.

After reading about how 2nd graders made their thinking visible about the heroes they were studying, how could you or have you had your students make their thinking visible with the Visible Thinking Routine "Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate"?

No comments:

Post a Comment