Sunday, February 22, 2015

Using Thinking Routines at Student-led Conferences

On February 7, 2015, I posted Making Professional Thinking Visible, where I wrote about how our pedagogical leadership team used See-Think-Wonder (a thinking routine from Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Morrison, & Church). I received some great feedback from colleagues around the world, detailing how they have used thinking routines in professional settings too.

One educator (Philippa Morgan from the MEF International School in Istanbul, Turkey) mentioned another context she has used See-Think-Wonder (S-T-W). She said she has used S-T-W "as a format for 3-way conferences with my [first grade] students and parents. The familiarity of the routine gave the students confidence as they shared portfolio pieces and the parents were able to follow lead and see a routine in action."

Inspired by Philippa, I shared her idea with a couple of teachers with whom I work. One second grade teacher decided to use S-T-W with her students as a way to prepare for their student-led conferences. Here is her story:

Throughout the last several months, students have been writing poetry and have been collecting their pieces in their poetry binders. To prepare for their conferences, students were asked to look through their binders and reflect on the learning they had done by documenting the things they saw, what they thought, and what they wondered. Some students decided to additionally write a goal for the future based on what they saw in their poetry binders.

Below are seven examples of what students created.

Student #1:

Student #2:

Student #3:

Student #4:

Student #5:

Student #6:

Student #7:

After reading about how one teacher used See-Think-Wonder to prepare her students for the conferences that they'll end up leading, how could you use thinking routines to prepare for or to structure their student-led conferences?


  1. Thank you for this post. Great idea and looks like it works. I'm going to definitely try and use this method as I've been struggling to get my first graders to talk about their learning.

    Thank you again

  2. Hi Samanthea, I'd be interested to hear how it went with your first graders. This was something that we were trying out and I think it went well!

    Another teacher just told me how she used the 4Cs, another thinking routine from Making Thinking Visible by Ritcchart, Morrison, & Church, as a way to prep her kids for student-led conferences. She teachers G5 though, so that might be a bit complex for G1 students.

    Good luck!

  3. So, here is a little update on my comment. The kids in my class did something similar and we used the See-Think-Wonder concept. It worked really well as it was a great starting point for the conversations with parents and it led into helping each student make a goal for the next term. Thank you for the great idea. I would love to share pictures of how it worked in my class room.