Just Think About It

Have you ever been told just to think about it? Maybe it was your mom responding to a question she did not want to answer. Maybe it was a teacher when you asked a question. While this response is often not meant to be frustrating, it often is. What do we mean when we say just think about it? What does it mean to think? What is involved in thinking? Thinking is complex, and is something that must be learned through practice. And that is where making thinking visible comes into play.

To gain understanding there are some essential points to thinking that students need to learn to do. As teachers it is our job to make these steps visible, to us and to the students. It allows them to visually make connections to what their mind is doing, and it allows teachers to see where their students are at in terms of the complexities involved in fully understanding a concept.


In order to dig deeper into a students understanding we draw on students’ investigation, prior knowledge, or reading in claim-support-question. This three part thinking activity requires students to dig deeper into their learning and to identify patterns, generalizations, and assertions.

  • Claim: students write and explanation or interpretation of what is being examined
  • Support: students identify what they know about their claim to lend evidence.
  • Question: what doubts, further ideas, or uncertainties remain from the original claim that can be investigated further?


When we first introduce a topic, we want our students to be actively engaged in their learning from the start. In this thinking activity students are shown a visual that spark their interest. They then work through the three steps to begin to break down what they are thinking.

  • What do they see
  • What do they think is going on
  • What makes them wonder/what do they want to know more about.

The 4 C’s

To help students with synthesizing and organizing their thoughts and ideas can employ the 4C’s thinking method. When students work through a nonfiction text they can work through the four c’s to help them actively engage in what they are taking in.

  • make connect the text to other readings, prior knowledge, experiences
  • raise challenge to ideas, positions, and areas that raised a red flag
  • note concepts that were key to the reading
  • identify changes in thinking and attitudes as a result of the reading


  1. I think that the claim-support-question could fall well in the explain phase when students are working to form a strong understanding and are making definitions of concepts. This would allow them to work through their explanations in a way that allows for critical thinking to know how their definitions are supported and in what areas there still might be gaps.

  2. Hi Melinda! I think this is a great blog post. I really liked the organization of the post. I think you did a good job of explaining what each of the strategies was. The four C’s is something that really caught my eye. I think this is a great MTV strategy. My question for you is, What concept or standard would you use for the four C’s strategy?

    • I think the great thing about these strategies is that they are applicable to any concept or standard. This allows for them to be employed throughout the year so that students can build and grow. For me I would use this more so to bridge between standards. One thing I noticed a lot when observing myself and my peers in physics was that we often forgot to think about previous concepts to connect to what we were learning in a current section. This is where I find students struggling so much. They struggle to see the interconnection and I think this strategy can be a great tool in helping students recognize those aspects.

  3. Melinda, this is a good post! I like the 4C’s strategy a lot, I hadn’t heard of that one before but I feel like it could be really useful in a science classroom. The connections portion of the strategy seems especially good for making students’ thinking visible. I do have one question about the post. I noticed you chose to look at claim-support-question. What part of the learning cycle does this strategy fall into? How could you use it in your own classroom with science content?

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