Thinking Coming To Life

The book making thinking visible plays an extreme role in our future classrooms, so many of the rudimentary curriculum involves students mindlessly filling in worksheets, and answering questions without understanding the deeper meaning of what is being asked. One of the quotes that stuck out to me while reading is “What kinds of thinking does that lesson force students to do? A Large percentage of teachers are stumped” (Ron Ritchhart, 2011). Hopefully This quotes sinks in and makes you reflect on your time in Highschool growing up, and gets you to think about what kind of work was I really doing; what kind of thinking was I really being asked to do in Highschool?

Why is making students thinking visible so important to us teachers; why is it important to them? Making thinking visible is such an important aspect of the classroom, because it allows deeper meanings to be explored of topics. Teachers can better understand how their students are thinking, and meanwhile students are gaining awareness of their thinking and able to see the similar thoughts of those around them. So here are 3 Strategies to make thinking come to life in your future classroom

Strategy #1: Claim – Support – Question

Claim – Support – Question, is one of those strategies that is extremely critical to a students repertoire to have, It serves a purpose in validating and questioning some of the concepts and material that comes to light in the science field. It is extremely important for students to be able to distinguish what holds valid and invalid in the science field, because this is what shapes our perspectives.

  • In the CLAIM phase, students make a claim about a topic, this is like a statement, which is potentially arguable and NOT based solely on ones emotions.
  • In the SUPPORT phase, the students are now providing the evidence and proof that backs up the claim to either validate it or not.
  • The QUESTION aspect, deals with students asking questions about what they still want to know to help better shape their claim.

This is extremely important for students, it drives them to use a critical lens when they are exploring new concepts. This is a strategy that we want to come second nature for students after practicing with it, This will allow for students to visualize and better understand their thinking and how it is relating to the claim.

Strategy #2: Think – Puzzle – Explore

One of my favorite strategies from the book of MTV, is Think-Puzzle-Explore it is a powerful strategy that incorporates the Explore part of the 5E’s Learning cycle very well. In Think-Puzzle-Explore

  • In the THINK stage of this, students jot down what they think they know about the topic provided.
  • During the PUZZLE stage students are asking questions they have about the topic
  • Finally the EXPLORE stage is where the teacher is asking about ways they can go about exploring the topic.

This Strategy is really useful, for watching the students minds come to life, it can help students gauge their background knowledge, and then allow them to ask questions about what they may not know still, then it is telling you, the teacher, what they are interested in learning more about.

Strategy #3 – Compass Points

Compass Points is a routine strategy that can help students explore various ideas and concepts before taking a stand on it. How this works is students are asked four questions, and they right down their response in the direction of the compass to help visualize their thinking.

  • East stands for Excited, what are you excited about in this idea or concept.
  • West Stands for Worries, what are you worried about with this concept?
  • North stands for Need To Know, what else do you need to know about the concept, or additional information that can help you.
  • Stance, or suggestions for moving on with the concept. How do you feel about the concept now, what can help further your understanding.


  1. Hi Quinten, I really liked your post. I really liked the graphics you chose to use. I liked the idea of the compass points. I think you did a good job of explaining this concept. Again, a great graphic to really explain the compass points. My question for you is, what concept or standard would you use for the compass points strategy?

    • Hi Allie! Thank you for your response! I intended to use the compass points strategy in areas or concepts where positive classroom discussion can be fostered, so in our classes we have talked about things like viruses, space trash, and sea exploration. I feel like these types of topics can help gain insight about what the students are worried to talk about, what they are excited to learn more about, and how they feel about certain topics!

  2. Quinten, good post here! I really like your explanation of the think puzzle explore strategy. Of the methods we’ve discussed in class, this is one of my favorites so far. You did a good job of relating it to the 5E’s learning cycle as well. One question I do have for you is about compass points. I like this idea in concept but I have trouble visualizing it in a real science classroom. What sort of content would you use this strategy with and in what part of the unit/lesson?

    • Hi Max thank you for your post! concepts I can see the compass being used in an area where there is much to explore, topics that can lead to meaningful dialogue such as conversations over viruses, oceans, space etc… It allows for the teacher to understand what the students are excited for, some worries they have, and areas of content they really want to explore!

  3. Hi Quinten, first I just wanted to say how much I loved your initial photo. It gives a great visual of the complexity involved in thinking. I had not yet heard of the compass points strategy, and I think this a great way to get students to think about the many facets of a concept before they jump to a conclusion. How would you see using this as a personal activity and then as an interpersonal activity?

    • Hi Melinda, thank you for your response! I always thought about this as being used a personal activity to gauge ones stances on topics, and what they’re excited to learn more about. I’m glad you brought into light using it as an interpersonal activity, I would say maybe pairing of students in areas where they are both extremely excited to learn more about a particular aspect of a concept!

  4. Hi Quinten! I liked how you explained think puzzle explore in your post. I think it is super important to get our students to begin to question and wonder about the content that they are learning. Where do you think this technique falls in the 5 E’s learning cycle? Can you think of a topic you might use this strategy with?

    • Hi Maddie thank you for your response! I Think puzzle explore is a great strategy to use in the explore stage of the 5 E’s learning cycle. I can see many topics fitting into this, such as interests in things like chemical reactions, space/sea exploration and more!

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