Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Visible Thinking

I learned about creating visible thinking routines at an early childhood International Baccalaureate conference I attended in 2007. I immediately saw the value of these routines and slowly began to implement some of them with my pre-k students. In a nutshell, using a visible thinking routine structures a lesson so that children can make connections and reach higher levels of thinking about a given topic.

Hands down, my favorite visible thinking routine is I See, I Think, I Wonder. This routine encourages students to make observations and connect their thinking and questions to the observations they have made.

I have created some very simple visual supports with Boardmaker software that I tape to chart paper to create a chart to record student responses. I laminated the visuals so that I can re-use them and simply tape them to a piece of chart paper. I draw lines to create three columns and I am ready to record.

I then choose a prompt. Sometimes it is a poster, sometimes it is a page from the story we are reading and sometimes it is a set of objects that we will using to create something. I set the stage and then guide the conversation according to the routine. "Raise a quiet hand if you can tell me something you see." "Sally saw a gray cloud, raise a quiet hand if you can tell me what that makes you think." "I see a gray cloud and I think it might rain, I wonder...."

Sometimes, I don't even do a "formal" lesson with this strategy, I just model it and encourage it within conversation. For example, my fish tank in the classroom was getting algae growth on the sides. While the students were napping, I ducked off campus to pick up a "sucker fish" from our local pet store. When I came back, I put the fish in the bag, in the fish tank so it could acclimate to our water temperature. It was also a natural prompt to generate conversation and thinking when the students woke up and saw it. I just followed the thinking routine guiding their comments and observations. What do you see? What does that make you think? And then finally modeling a wonder statement (which tends to be most difficult for my students) "I wonder if our tank will change?" and encouraging them to wonder also. They watched as we opened the bag and let the fish into the tank and then we started all over again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Interactive Holiday Sites

It's the holiday time of year! We are busy learning traditions and celebrations from around the world. With this comes many natural opportunities to build language through stories, crafts and games. Since my pre-k classroom is equipped with an ActiveBoard and we have fourth grade students who earn to come down on Thursday afternoons to be our "computer buddies," my students especially love many of the interactive games that can be found for free on the internet.

Here are a few of our class favorites:

Make Rudolph: Visual Spatial Activity

Make a Snowman: Visual Spatial Activity

Decorate a Christmas Tree

Spin the Dreidel

Shake the Snowglobe

Design a Snowflake

Kwanzaa Puzzle

Create Fireworks for Diwali

I'd love to find a child friendly Diwali, Festival of Ligths game and a Las Posadas game. If anyone knows of a link will you post it in the comments section?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


It's been a long time since I've posted! Sorry.

In that time, my principal retired, our new principal started, a friend and I presented a session on Visual Supports with at our state Council for Exceptional Children conference and finished an online post-grad course.

Not to mention Thanksgiving, guests in town and Black Friday shopping with my sisters.

I'll get back in the groove and update you all on the IB Safety Unit we just finished and the December Celebrations Unit we are beginning.