Letting go….

 There is every reason for a poor turnout for the reading group. New units are just getting underway. Teachers are busy writing reports. It’s less than two months till the end of the school year…

Yet more than half the teachers at our Year 4-6 campus turn up an hour before school to discuss the first chapter of Ron Ritchhart’s latest book, ‘Making Thinking Visible‘. It’s partly because we really value the ‘Visible Thinking’ ideas and material and the positive impact they have had on our teaching and learning. But it’s also because there is a core group of teachers who, over a period of several years, have developed into a real community of learners. We know that sessions like this push our thinking and keep us constantly reflecting on our practice. 

We ‘unpack thinking’ over breakfast. Those who haven’t managed to do the reading pick up the ideas from the others and are quickly involved too. (I’ve summed up some of the key points of the chapter in an earlier post here.) Among other things we talk about how creating a culture of thinking in our classrooms has shifted the focus from teaching to learning. It’s part of the process of students taking ownership of the learning.

In this reflection, one of the veteran teachers in the group makes her thinking visible…

Letting go….the more I do it, the better it gets! by Desiree Finestone

I am still learning.  The more I gradually release  control of my students’ learning and allow learning to happen where  they are given opportunities to naturally think, analyse, synthesise and internalise concepts and processes, the more I realise this is the way to go!

Providing tools and opportunities to make their thinking visible fosters engagement and discussion around the content. Post –it notes displayed around the room, blogging and thinking routines all support the thinking.  These tools allow students to share, listen to and build on each other’s ideas. 

It’s a great feeling to literally sit back, fold my arms and observe what is happening!  Each time I ‘see’ and feel their thinking and learning, I move up one rung on the ladder towards my next teaching goal. The more I teach, the more I realise how important it is to know how my students learn.

I so enjoy being involved in our Thinking Group.  It provides us teachers opportunities to make our thinking visible and learn from each other.

Image by HocusFocusClick

17 thoughts on “Letting go….

  1. We started a book study group also and coincidentally are reading the same book right now – I am so glad you posted the thinking from your group – I posted the conversation from our first session f you are interested in taking a look. We meet again next week and I have shared your blog post with our group. Awesome to be learning from each other face to face and from your group, too!

    http://www.psdblogs.ca/greystone/2011/10/04/making-thinking-visible-book-study-session-1/

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    1. Thanks for sharing your group too🙂 We used the ‘Connect Extend Challenge’ thinking routine for our actual discussion, although I forgot to write about that.Might as well practice making thinking visible at the same time!

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  2. This makes me want to join a reading group or make one myself among friends. In our spare time we could sit down and let go while reading and discussing books. I want to push my thinking and really get involved and this seems like a great idea. I want my students to do the same when I begin teaching. I love great ideas and this is surely one of them. Letting go starts now.

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    1. Thanks for the comments! I decided that for this kind of book, it would keep momentum up best if we met weekly to share our thoughts as we go along, rather than monthly to discuss a whole book. Which do you think is better?

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  3. This is a fantastic book and like you, my colleagues and I are also doing it as a book study and unpacking our own thinking so that we can help our students to unpack their thinking! Thank you for sharing with us!

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    1. Thanks Pam. What I have found is that having voluntary groups works best. It doesn’t matter how few people show. If it’s good and they talk about it, other will join due to FOMO! (fear of missing out)

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  4. I, too, am enjoying the book. It’s helped me process my learning from PZ this summer. Using the visible thinking routines has definitely changed the way I teach and shifted my own thinking. I look forward to my own reading groups discussion of the first few chapters and I hope I’ll be able to Skype in with your group at some point. Best regards-

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  5. When I read this I thought it was amazingly inspirational. How wonderful to have a professional book club and collaborative discussion combined with informed action in our classrooms and further discussion as to the outcome. I want to be a part of a learning community like this one!

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  6. I read Desiree’s comments about Letting Go…. and have spent time thinking about What would happen with Inquiry at my level.
    I’ve started to think that explicit teaching in the lower levels of the school can be complimented by Letting Go….
    Regular teaching of different Thinking Routines and revisiting previously learned routines should help students, in higher levels when the reins are let go for more of the time and their Inquiry is truely student specific.
    When the opportunity presents itself offer a range of routines and organisers and allow students to select the ones that they feel best suit both their learning style and the activity.

    Regarding a reading group, I feel that it is important to share the learning and understandings and this is a very good way of doing so. In addition to a reading group, I would now look to WEB 2.0 and the many different ways that Teachers are sharing ideas in “Learning Communities”. I have recently found Twitter and having read many different Blog Posts, find that Twitter comments and sharing is the little seed that I need to begin an investigation on my own or with others.

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    1. Hi Steve

      Yes, ‘letting go’ is essential in the inquiry process. I think kinders do this best! Kids are always exploring, questioning discovering, experimenting..

      Thinking routines are not limited to the higher grades (is that what you meant?) There is a fabulous example on the Project Zero DVD of a prep class discussing a piece of abstract using the ‘see think wonder’ and ‘what makes you say tha?t ‘ routines and the kids are expressing their ideas, building on and responding to each other… inspiring!

      I don’t agree about offering students a range of thinking routines. Each one is used to generate a different kind of thinking, so the teacher usually chooses carefully which one will achieve the desired purpose.Have you read Ritchhart’s Making Thinking Visible? Well worth the read for both the background to making thinking visible and the how, when and why of each of the routines.

      We have had reading and thinking groups as well as tech groups going for several years. Have you thought about initiating a tech group at your campus?

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