3-2-1 Bridge

In a recent post, I reflected on how my beliefs about teaching and learning have changed, using the thinking routine ‘I used to think… Now I think...’

Another challenging thinking routine from Project Zero is 3-2-1 Bridge, which like the previous one, reveals the development of thinking over time.  Students express their initial thoughts, questions and ideas about a topic, then later make connections with their new thinking, after further learning has taken place.

Here’s my thinking on the subject of Twitter, using this routine… (Note: If you’re new to the whole Twitter idea, start by reading  this post instead)



  • Lots of chat about nothing in 140 characters
  • Pointless drivel about people’s everyday lives
  • Hardly anything  that I could  benefit from


  • Why would I care what strangers eat for breakfast?
  • What purpose could there possibly be in joining this conversation?


  • Twitter is like rummaging through the rubbish in case you find a gem.



  • It’s the most valuable PD I’ve ever had.
  • An opportunity to meet, learn, interact, collaborate, discover, uncover…
  • A vital connection with educators around the world. My PLN.


  • Why didn’t I realise the value of it sooner?
  • How can I encourage other educators to get involved in the conversation?


  • It’s like a perpetual round-the-world flight … it takes me to interesting destinations, exposes me to new things and allows me to meet people from different places, while interacting with all sorts of people who get on and off at points along the way.

BRIDGE (What caused the shift in thinking?)

  • I realised that one can follow topics, not just individuals. I discovered many talented and generous educators this way and have discovered an incredible array of links, tools and resources.
  • I discovered hashtags, in particular #edchat.  Although I have only been able to participate a few times, due to the time difference, the Educators’ PLN who communicate through that hashtag is inspirational.
  • I found I could ask for help and receive it from anywhere in the world instantaneously. For instance I recently asked if anyone could recommend an interactive timeline tool. Within a few minutes, my PLN had suggested at least 6 possibilities for me to investigate, with their comments to assist my decision.
  • I have established a network of educators with whom to collaborate in a variety of exciting ways.  For instance:
  1. This week I will be in Singapore for a conference and have arranged to visit another PYP school, through @KlBeasley, a PYP educator too.
  2. @MaggieSwitz has set up a connection between our Yr 2’s and hers.  For them it’s part of a much bigger project, while for us it’s a small step in the right direction, but the connections she makes for her school are an inspiration to us.
  3. @Blabberize have commented on our Year 5 class wiki, because I tweeted about the way they had used Blabberize to demonstrate their learning.  They have  linked to the class wiki from their blog, which is thrilling for the students who created the work.
  4. I met @ktenkely who invited bloggers to join a blogging alliance, through which I have connected with other educational bloggers, which has added another whole dimension to the blogging conversation.

And I could go on and on…

Here’s my first post about Twitter from November last year.  I had already begun to see the value at that point… and I’ve come a long way since!

My intention was to use Twitter as an example to apply the 3-2-1 Bridge routine.  I seem to have got a bit carried away 🙂 … Clearly I am highly enthused by the PLN with whom I have connected through Twitter!

Unplanned series of posts based on Project Zero Thinking Routines #4


I used to think…

I have blogged recently about creating a culture of thinking and about introducing thinking routines as a structure to promote and develop students’ thinking.

Another of Project Zero’s thinking routines is ‘I used to think… Now I think‘.   Using this routine, students reflect on their understanding of a topic or issue and explore how and why that thinking has changed.  It provides a structure for students to identify and think about new learning, opinions and understandings.

Here’s my version of  ‘I used to think, now I think…’  It’s by no means a comprehensive list, just a sample!  Please add your thoughts in the comments… 🙂

I used to think it was about the teaching.

Now I think it’s all about the learning.

I used to think every student had to put up his hand before he spoke and all conversation had to go through me.

Now I think, the best discussions are ones where the kids are responding to each other and I’m out of the picture.

I used to think that praising kids was necessary positive reinforcement.

Now I think that feedback needs to be constructive and specific and praise on its own isn’t helpful.

I used to think silence had to be filled by repeating the question or asking a different question.

Now I think silence means every student is having enough time to think.

I used to think differentiation meant setting different tasks for different abilities.

Now I think digital tools often  provide natural differentiation for different levels and abilities.

I used to think exercise books had to be neat, with a margin drawn at the side.

Now I think exercise books are for thinking, reflecting, scribbling ideas and working things out, so it doesn’t matter what they look like.

I used to think finished work should be hung on the wall so the class could see it.

Now I think the best place for samples of learning is on the class wiki where an authentic audience can read/listen and comment.

I used to think my students learned best sitting facing the front of the classroom.

Now I think they need to sit in groups, in order to collaborate.

I used to think the classroom needed to be quiet and I needed to be in control.

Now I think noisy lessons where the kids are engaged often reflect learning at its most vibrant.

Unplanned series of posts based on Project Zero Thinking Routines #3


4 C’s

Two of the most successful ways to engage students in their learning are technology and thinking routines.  If you read this blog, you already know that’s how I feel 🙂  If not, see my previous posts!!

My favourite scenario is when I can combine the two.  I blogged about using Toondoo for the Colour, Symbol, Image thinking routine.  Tomorrow I intend to use Edmodo,  for kids to respond to a video, using the 4 C’s thinking routine.  I have adapted the routine a little to suit the particular unit of inquiry, but this is the original version:

The 4 C’s:

Connections: How does this text (video, other stimulus) connect to what you already know?

Concepts: What concepts or big ideas are important in this text?

Changes: What changes in attitude, thinking or action are suggested by the text?

Challenges: What ideas in the text would you like to challenge or argue with?

It’s a powerful thinking routine and will hopefully give the students a structure within which to frame their responses to the video, make connections to other learning, think about big ideas and raise issues.  I think Edmodo will be an appropriate tool to use, as the kids will be able to see and build on each others’ ideas.  I like the fact that every single person will be involved in thinking and expressing their ideas, even the shy ones who might normally participate less.  I think it will be helpful that kids can view the video clip as many times as they like, and pause or rewind as required.  I like the fact that the task is naturally differentiated, where the stronger kids can express more, the weaker ones can get ideas from their peers and everyone can be engaged at their own level.

I feel a little disappointed that, in spite of all these advantages, my team mates are opting to show the video to the whole class and get each child to respond individually on paper.

Establishing a culture of thinking #2

I wrote in a previous post, about establishing a culture of thinking and referred to Ron Ritchhart’s 8 cultural forces of a thinking classroom.

Time for thinking
Expectations for thinking and learning
Opportunities for engaging in thinking
Routines & Structures that scaffold thinking and learning
Language & Conversations that name, notice, and highlight thinking
Modeling of thinking
Interactions & Relationships that show respect for students’ thinking
Physical Environment in which the process of thinking is made visible

‘Work’ does not = learning.
For learning to occur, thinking and understanding are required!  The cultural forces communicate to our students that thinking is expected and valued, what kinds of thinking will be happening and how learning and thinking will be managed and documented.

In that post, I talked about ‘thinking time’.  Another of the ‘forces’ that define a thinking class, is ‘routines’.  ‘A routine can be thought of as any procedure, process, or pattern of action that is used repeatedly to manage and facilitate the accomplishment of specific goals or tasks’.  Ritchhart says that just as you have housekeeping routines and management routines in the classroom, thinking can become a routine too.  Like all routines, thinking routines need to be clear with a few steps, easy to teach/learn and remember, applicable across a  range of contexts.  As a result, Project Zero’s suggested thinking routines are crisp and catchy, while creating a structure for complex, higher order thinking.

Today my class used a routine, called ‘Colour, Symbol, Image‘ which requires selecting a colour, a symbol and an image to represent the essence of the topic or text  studied.  This can be done on paper or digitally, but the computer makes it easy to insert symbols and find appropriate images, with no artistic talent required.  Here’s an example showing my colour, symbol and image of choice to represent the essence of my blog.  I only thought of using Toondoo to create it, after the class had done theirs in boring old Word!!

Cultural forces in a thinking classroom: Part 2: Routines

Establishing a culture of thinking…

Ron Ritchhart, in his book Intellectual Character, talks about teaching children to think and the importance of creating a culture of thinking in the classroom.  His work with David Perkins, Howard Gardner and others at Harvard University on Project Zero and Visible Thinking is well worth exploring.

He describes eight ‘cultural forces’ that define a thinking classroom. These forces foster thinking, and hence deeper understanding and more meaningful learning:

Time for thinking
Expectations for thinking and learning
Opportunities for engaging in thinking
Routines & Structures that scaffold thinking and learning
Language & Conversations that name, notice, and highlight thinking
Modeling of thinking
Interactions & Relationships that show respect for students’ thinking
Physical Environment in which the process of thinking is made visible

I’ll start with the easiest one.  Time for thinking.  It’s easy to talk about.. not always so easy to ensure in the classroom.

How often do teachers ask a question, then rephrase it if no-one answers in the first few seconds?
It’s easy to call on the same child who always raises his hand, yet again, if no-one else volunteers.
Do you ever answer the question yourself if no-one else seems ready to?

Sometimes it’s difficult to allow waiting time, if there’s no response right away, but we need to allow time for thinking if we want our students to think!  One possibility  is to give students time to think and to write down their thoughts, before calling on anyone to respond. That way, everyone has enough time to formulate thoughtful responses and there is much greater participation.  Another is to allow time for students to share their thinking in pairs or groups, before calling on individuals to answer.
Time for thinking’ also implies time for in depth exploration of topics.  The PYP encourages higher order thinking and engagement with conceptual ideas through units of inquiry.  We have definitely seen a difference in the way our students think, since our school introduced the PYP  a few years ago!

Cultural forces in a thinking classroom: Part 1: Time


This clip isn’t new, but it’s a favourite of mine.  It seemed a good choice if the subject is change!

I asked my colleagues at school how they feel they have changed as teachers and learners in the past year. This wordle shows their responses:

The fact that the biggest word is THINKING means that it was the most frequently used word, which I think is great! It tells you something about what we value as teachers and learners.  I like the fact that the words ‘teaching’ and ‘work’ are nowhere to be seen.  It shows how far we moved in our reflection and in our practice.

Most of the respondents were part of  a voluntary group of  teachers who come to school an hour early once a week to learn together. Our ‘thinking group’ meets fortnightly to discuss readings, share ideas and reflect on our teaching.  This is my in-school PLN, a group of committed teachers who have, over the past few years, become a true ‘community of learners,’ creating a culture of thinking and inquiry which has spread through the school, across disciplines, staff and students. The ‘technology group’ (many of the same people), meets on the alternate week to experiment with web 2.o tools and share how to use them in the classroom. This week I listened to Konrad Glogowski talking about ‘learning with‘  rather than ‘learning from‘ at the K-12 online conference and was struck by how much more meaningful this kind of PD can be than the traditional type.

Here are a few examples of the teachers’ responses to how they have changed:

‘I have learnt that together my students and I can explore topics and issues through the use of thinking routines and graphic organizers. We celebrate the fact that we are able to learn from each other in this way and see things from different perspectives and value our different views.’

I feel this year that I have become more exposed to technology  but I still feel that I need to implement more of what I have learned. I have also made an effort to focus on the children’s thinking and making connections with their previous knowledge through the regular use of thinking routines.’

I am beginning to shift from being a teacher to a facilitator.  Relinquishing control is challenging but the benefits are worthwhile. I have learned that listening to children’s thinking gives incredible insight into their understanding…’

‘Growing questions and thinking with the use of thinking routines and technology… is something I have learned and used a lot this year.’

PS. I asked the same question on Twitter (‘ How have you changed as a teacher/ learner in the past year?’), and the responses were somewhat different.  Most of them related to technology, to what teachers have got out of Twitter, to the benefits of an online PLN… but that’s another story…  🙂

PYP Key Concept: Change. Series of posts through the lens of key concepts of PYP.

On curiosity…

“I’ve noticed that people who read a lot of blogs and a lot of books also tend to be intellectually curious, thirsty for knowledge, quicker to adopt new ideas and more likely to do important work.

I wonder which comes first, the curiosity or the success?” (Seth Godin on Seth’s blog)

I’ve been thinking about it!  What do you think?

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to embed a video I liked of him talking about curiosity (made by Nic Askew). You can see it here.

He says that for 15 years of school, you are required to not be curious.  That’s not the case in our school…

This cartoon shows a reflection written by Rachel, in 5D.

Here is a collection student wonderings gathered from teachers in K-6 recently...

‘Can ants swim?’ (kinder)

‘If you are touching someone, and you can’t see them, how do you know who they are?’ (prep)

‘Why can’t wealthy governments join together and stop child labour, barely livable conditions and unfair rules?’ (year 5)

‘How can religion affect a country’s system of governance ?’ (year 6)

‘What makes the wind blow to move things? (prep)

‘Why cant people use happiness as a weapon for good?’ (year 1)

‘What would happen to the water cycle if the sun went out?’ (year 4)

‘What causes Africa to be poor and Australia wealthy?’ (year 5)

‘Why can’t you speak under water?’ (prep)

‘If we plant the seed it will grow into a peanut tree. If we water it, it will grow normal peanuts but if you water it with swimming pool water will it grow salty nuts?’ (kinder)

‘I wonder if God prays back to us’ (year 2)

As PYP teachers (or any teachers!) we want our students to be thinkers and inquirers. We strive to encourage authentic inquiry learning.  We encourage our students to be intellectually curious.  Are we?

You are the result of yourself…

I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Chilean poet and writer, Pablo Neruda, till I read this quote on a blog yesterday:

“You are the result of yourself.”

It really made me think… all sorts of things.  About myself, my family, my colleagues, my students, disadvantaged people, privileged people, famous people, criminals…

I wondered what kids would make of it.  Here are some responses from 12 year-olds, some of whom didn’t write their names. Thank you 6B for your awesome thinking!

The decisions and choices you make reflect the deep inner person you are. (Jessie)

The only competition is yourself. (Ellie)

I think it’s saying, try your hardest.. that is good enough.

Your mind is controlled by you, so you choose your future (Aria)

If  you want something, you have to work for it. (Benji)

You are you who you are. Don’t try and be someone who you are not. (Ruby)

It’s up to you to decide what you are in life.

I think it means I must take action for what I believe in. (Jessie. H)

I think it means however you choose to live your life, you will get the results back. (Melanie)

The effort you put in affects the outcome that you carry around.

It means whatever you do, you can succeed in life, if you think you can.

If you try something, the result is you. You can make something happen.

If you do something wrong or right, you are responsible for the outcome or consequences. (Justin)

It’s about responsibility and thinking carefully before you do something. (Joel)

What ever you do is a reflection on you. (Talia)

What you do is what you become.. think carefully before you do! (Natalie)

You control your own actions. If you do something you must know that it might kick you in the butt later! (A.R)

Your past will come back to you in your future. (Ruby)

P.S. I only found the whole poem afterwards.