Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thinking Routines

Visible Thinking involves several practices and resources.   In our classroom, we use a number of "thinking routines" -- simple protocols for exploring ideas -- around whatever topics are important, say "What is a Scientist?"   We used a routine called *Generate*Sort*Connect* to organize our thinking.   This is a routine for organizing our understanding of a topic through concept mapping.

What is a Scientist?

*Generate a list of ideas and initial thoughts that come to mind when you think about this particular topic.
*Sort your ideas according to how central or tangential they are. Place central ideas near the center and more tangential ideas toward the outside of the page. 
*Connect your ideas by drawing connecting lines between ideas that have something in common. Explain and write in a short sentence how the ideas are connected.



Why Make Thinking Visible?

The central idea of Visible Thinking is very simple:
 making thinking visible.
We learn best what we can see and hear
("visible thinking" means generally available to the senses, not just what you can see with your eyes).
We watch, we listen, we imitate,
 we adapt what we find to our own styles and interests, we build from there.
Now imagine learning to dance
when the dancers around you are all invisible.
 Imagine learning a sport
when the players who already know the game can't be seen.
Strange as it seems,
something close to it happens all the time
in one very important area of learning: learning to think, which includes learning to learn.
Thinking is pretty much invisible.
To be sure, sometimes people explain the thoughts behind a particular conclusion,
 but often they do not.
Mostly, thinking happens under the hood,
within the marvelous engine of our mind-brain.
Visible Thinking includes a number of ways of making students' thinking visible
to themselves, to their peers, and to the teacher,
so they get more engaged by it
and come to manage it better for learning and other purposes.
When thinking is visible in classrooms,
students are in a position to be more metacognitive,
to think about their thinking.
        When thinking is visible,
it becomes clear that school is not about memorizing content
 but exploring ideas.
Teachers benefit when they can see students' thinking
because misconceptions, prior knowledge, reasoning ability,
and degrees of understanding are more likely to be uncovered.

Teachers can then address these challenges
 and extend students' thinking
by starting from where they are.
Visible Thinking excerpt from:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Morning Work

Each morning, after we put away jackets and backpacks, we work on Good Morning Work.
This practice time includes daily oral language, sight word review, basic reading skills and handwriting practice. First graders, also, use this time to practice recently learned math skills.
Parents, be sure to look for these daily practice worksheets, as they will allow you to see the skills we are currently working on.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"BEE" My Valentine

Our afternoon today was filled with ice cream sundaes, big valentine hearts, some finger puppets, a bit of candy kiss estimating, passing out cards and, of course, lava-jumping.  Would you expect any less?
We even fit in a little "thinking routine"...GENERATE*SORT*CONNECT.
Since today is all about our friends, we spent some time thinking about our friends and how they are important to us.  Then we turned to discuss this with a partner...because we all need to run our ideas by a good listener.  We gathered these ideas, and then sorted them.  We organized our ideas in a way that made sense to us, and finally, we connected our ideas to other ideas.  The thinking was deep, the conversation engaging and the learning? well, quite visible!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

making connections

Readers use prior knowledge before, during and after reading.   They use their schema to make connections between the text and their lives.   And they use these connections to better understand what they read.  

After reading The Snowy Day, we recorded our connections.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

math goals

We are making progress toward meeting our math goals.
One of our building goals is fluency in addition and subtraction.
Kindergarteners are working on sums to 10.
Firsties are working on sums to 20.
Cereal makes working on addition...well,  DELICIOUS!

arctic animals

We are finishing up our Study of Arctic Animals this week.
This study of penguins, polar bears and walruses has been a great opportunity to look at non-fiction writing.
Non-fiction books are very popular with the children, and I see them looking for this type of reading when selecting books.
Also, the students have been writing non-fiction during workshop time.  Look for "All About Penguins" books to come home soon.

Monday, February 4, 2013

computer lab

Each Monday morning, we visit the computer lab. 
Most Mondays, we visit a website called .
This is a wonderful k-1 site that provides phonics practice
 and allows the children to follow along as stories,
 that use our high frequency sight words, are read aloud.
There are games and activities that provide practice in many skill areas.
Today, we changed it up a bit.
The children went to another site called
This is a program the the school has purchased. 
There are a variety of tools for drawing, coloring, painting, stamping, typing, etc.
Today we explored the many tools,
 and we certainly look forward to using this site again soon.