MTV: Not just for music anymore

Today we are going to tackle three strategies from the book Making Thinking Visible.

The first strategy we are going to look at is one of my favorites from the book

“Chalk Talk”

In this strategy, poster-sized pieces of paper are placed around the room with questions on each. They could be the same question or they could all be different, the goal is to make each of the questions a little open-ended and thought-provoking. The students are divided into groups and silently cycle through each of the papers responding to either the question or other students thoughts and comments. By the end, the posters are filled with talking points and small discussions about the questions presented.

This strategy is particularly good for complex or controversial topics because it is anonymous, and even students who don’t communicate as much in class are able to share their thoughts.

For example, you could have four questions surrounding the topic of energy consumption.

Is nuclear energy worth the risk?

Do you think renewables will catch up to fossil fuels in terms of energy production?

Do humans have a responsibility to halt or slow climate change?

What renewable source of energy do you think is the most viable in our country?

The second strategy we will talk about is

“Sentence, Phrase, Word”

Sentence phrase word is designed to help students reach the key points of a piece of information like an article. It is also helpful as a teacher to see what particular information resonates with the students.

First, an article is introduced. For this example, I’ll use this article I found discussing forest losses.

A new map reveals the causes of forest loss worldwide

The students would all be handed a copy of the article and read through it. They would be instructed to find a sentence that resonates with them or that they feel is important to the article

The students then stop and share their sentences either with a small group or with the entire class, then the sentences and their similarities are discussed as a class.

Next, The process is repeated with the students picking out a particular phrase, then sharing it with each other and the class.

Finally, the students go back through the article and pick out the word that they think is the central idea of the article. When the words are shared with the class, they are compiled and discussed as a class. There may be some repeated words, but that can be helpful too.

The third strategy we are going to discuss is

“Red light, Yellow Light”

I like this strategy a lot because it helps students develop their critical eye when it comes to factual research-based information. In this strategy, kids are given an article that may contain some biased or sketchy information. They read through the article in small groups and label the claims that the article makes as either RED, which means the information is either entirely wrong, or misleading, Or they can mark it as YELLOW, which means that the information is either meant to persuade or to present facts in an underhanded or sketchy manner. Then, the parts marked either red or yellow are discussed as a class.



  1. Peter,
    Great post! I liked how you got straight to the point when describing the strategies. I also really liked all the details you included to help me get a greater understanding. I also liked how your tweet is almost “interactive” and made me think about my own future classroom. My only question is, how would you use some of these strategies in your science class, specifically?

  2. Great post! I really like your ideas for each strategy. After looking through and learning about all of these different strategies, do you think that some are more valuable than others? For example, do you think sentence-phrase-word is as valuable as a chalk talk? Again, great post!

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