Friday, October 29, 2010

Visible Thinking Routines to introduce G3 students to blogging

Having been an advocate of Visible Thinking routines for many years, I was excited to be involved in using these with a Grade 3 class as they started blogging.  For those unfamiliar with Harvard Project Zero, Visible Thinking routes are used in the following way:
Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich. These routines are simple structures, for example a set of questions or a short sequence of steps, that can be used across various grade levels and content. What makes them routines, versus merely strategies, is that they get used over and over again in the classroom so that they become part of the fabric of classroom' culture. The routines become the ways in which students go about the process of learning.
The Grade 3 class had been reading the book Imagine A Night by Sarah L. Thompson, illustrated with the paintings of Rob Gonsalves.  One of the routines for exploring works of art is See, Think, Wonder.  Students are asked 3 questions:
What do you see?
What do you think about that?
What does it make you wonder? 
This routine encourages students to make careful observations and thoughtful interpretations.  It helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry.

Before the students came to the IT lab, the class teacher had already made a post about the book and the students had been introduced to the See part of the routine.  When they came to the lab I listened to the rest of the story with the class.  After each page students viewed the illustration and were encouraged to comment about their thoughts and wonderings.  

To introduce them to blogging, we had already decided the students would begin by making comments about the teacher's post.  To show the students how to do this I modelled what I would write as a comment for one of the illustrations.  I was then able to sit with individual students and help them to add their own comments.  The students who had been shown how to add comments were then able to help other students and show them what to do.  You can read the blog post and the students' comments (written with my help) by clicking here.

Following this, the class teacher used blogging as part of maths and story telling (they have also been working on narrative writing and digital storytelling).  This time students were given the blog comment to do as a homework activity.  The students did a fantastic job, writing long and complex stories and showing their understanding of maths in the process.  One thing that we had forgotten to tell the students, however, was that they wouldn't see their comments straight away as they had to be moderated.  Some students came to me this morning quite worried that they "hadn't done it right" because they didn't see their comments immediately.  A couple of parents also emailed the class teacher asking what had gone wrong - one boy even wrote his whole story twice!  Luckily the class was able to view all their stories successfully this morning.  The stories are exactly as the students have written them with no editing for spelling at all - they are Grade 3 students, many of whom do not have English as their first language - and I was very impressed by the amount most of them had written.  If you would like to view their work please click here.

Today the students are blogging as an introduction to their new unit of inquiry, How the World Works.  This unit explores how natural and man-made processes create changes to the Earth and its inhabitants.  For tonight's homework the students are looking at the CBBC website posts about the recent events in Indonesia and writing about how these natural disasters are affecting the people.  The students are also asked to reflect on how we can help.

When we set the blog up, we decided to add a Clustr map so that students could see how many people were visiting their blog and where they were from.  Two weeks after the launch of the blog we have had 78 visits from 16 different countries.  The students would love it if you would visit the blog and add your own comments to it too!

3N Kids Blog

Photo Credit:  Imagination by Tiffany Trewin

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing how visible thinking routines connect and drive the class blog. Visiting now to add my own dot and comments :)