Show your… thinking?

Have you ever been teaching and wondered what your students were thinking? Have you gotten that inevitable silence and wondered if they understood an instruction or a concept? Me too. I am going to talk about how I use some of Project Zero’s Visible Thinking Routines in my own classroom to not only have my students show their thinking but grow it.

Growing and Polishing our Thinking

Every year I use several thinking routines to get to know my student’s knowledge, their wants and what is important to them. From the work of Ron Ritchhart “Cultures of Thinking,” I use these routines to open up a dialogue between students and myself. Creating a safe space as there isn’t a correct answer, only space to grow and polish our own thinking. Here are several of the routines I have used, how we used them in class, and what their purpose was.

Chalk Talks

Here we used “Chalk Talks” to start conversations of understandings and prior knowledge.

See, Think, Wonder

Hear, Think, Wonder

I Think, I Know

Same & Different

This was done to create discussions of what we as a class believed to be the similarities and the differences between two types of drums. It allowed us to talk about the differences and similarities in an authentic way of what they were wondering.


This routine is called “Tug-A-War” where students are asked to Agree or Disagree with a statement and why. It is then posted on a continuum and next we look at the overall opinion of the class as a talking point.

Diamond Ranking

Diamond Ranking pushes us to rank what is most important to us as learners. Here it is used as a way to rank the IB Learner Attributes in order from most to least important to us. It creates a conversation of what do we need personally, to be successful. Thank you to Hectic Teacher for a wonderful resource.

Start Small but Think BIG

When I first started using Visible Thinking Routines, I was a very helicopter teacher, fixing students spelling and grammar. It got to the point that it took away from their own learning because they cared more about if it was “right” then sharing their thinking at all. We have a “toolbox” of Visible Thinking Routines in my classroom that we will use the whole year helping students become more comfortable with the idea that it does not have to be perfect. Creating a deeper understanding of concepts in music and our own thinking skills using these few routines than trying to use all of them.

I have created a few resources and templates that I have used in my classroom to share. I will be adding new resources periodically and updating this blog with new routines we might use. Subscribe to get updates to new resources available. Click the link here to access my Visible Thinking Templates!

For more information on Visible Thinking Routines, click here!

How do you encourage students to share their thinking? How do students share their thinking? Why is it important for students to share their thinking at all?

Thank you for reading and as always, share your learning and see you next time.

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4 thoughts on “Show your… thinking?”

  1. I love the routines/strategies you share here. Thank you for making your learning visible! It is inspiring me to try some different strategies in my room!

    1. Thanks Abby! I am glad you liked it. I will be updating this particular post with any new Thinking Routines we try in my classroom. I will also be adding any new templates I make to the Google Drive folder as well. I hope you have a great day, Levi

  2. Thank you Levi for your posts, I find everything you post, either here or on twitter, very helpful as I learn to navigate inquiry and PYP in my music classroom. I hope someday I can hang out in your classroom to learn more!

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