“What makes You Say That?”

One of the most structured and organized routines used in the classroom is “What makes you say that?”  A teacher from Bialik College remarked, “‘What makes you say that?’ isn’t just a teaching tool; it is a way of life.” She said she learns much more and has deeper conversations with family and friends just by asking, “what makes you say that?” instead of answering right away to people’s comments.  The simple, but strong question makes the learner’s own thinking clear and free from confusion.  I think I will try asking the question to my family and friends.


Students Must Have Something to Think About

For thinking to occur, students must have something to think about and be asked to think. Teachers need to create opportunities for thinking, so when teachers focus on making thinking visible in the classroom, the type questions they ask will change.  Teachers move from review or knowledge based  questions to ones that ask students to connect and extend ideas as well as to focus on the big idea.

Part Two: Thinking Routines Operate as Structures

Structures of thinking routines can be used with an entire class or in small group discussions.  Some discussions might not go as well as intended because of students over-focusing on completing the assignment or a lack of listening.  If students feel like the group’s job is to complete answers on a worksheet, the students focus on the worksheet instead of the discussion taking place.  “When routines become well-known to students, the routine itself can become useful in structuring the group’s discussion.”

Visible Thinking Routines are Structures

Thinking routines can be used as structures through which students can work individually, as well as collaboratively,to initiate, to explore, to discuss, to document, and to manage their thinking. The following are characteristics of structures:

*Explicit/having names to identify them   *Few steps/easy to learn  *Individual as well as group practices   *Useful across a variety of contexts  *Helps to reveal students’ thinking *Makes thinking more visible.


Routines Can be Used Over and Over Again

Did you know that visible thinking routines can be used as tools over and over again in the classroom?  These routines support specific thinking such as:

  • making connections
  • building explanations
  • considering viewpoints
  • reasoning with viewpoints
  • forming conclusions

Think about how you can use them in your classroom.  My blog will continue next week.