Hosts: Reuther M.S. Science Teachers & Cheryl Gambaro, Principal
Partners: Brandon M.S. Science Teachers
Rochester Hills MI. March 20, 2015
Background: A Customized Tour is one in which a guest school is partnered with a host school and together they design an agenda based on needs and strengths. Early in the fall of 2014, Principal Cheryl Gambaro, Reuther M. S., contacted me and expressed Reuther’s interest in a customized tour. She shared one or more areas of strength and needs to help identify a partner school. I contacted Principal Tina Chambers of Brandon M.S. and shared Cheryl’s request. After checking with her staff, Tina contacted Cheryl and they developed the customized tour based on the strengths and needs of each staff. Science teachers from both schools agreed to participate and together they devised a learning goal/hypothesis: Will students achieve a deeper level of thinking after multiple implementations and teacher reflections of a chosen routine? They also created an action research plan, for details see the November 18 post, and decided to hold three sessions during the year: November 18, (Reuther Hosts), January 27 (Brandon Hosts) and March 20 (Reuther Hosts).
Summary of March 20 Session
Introduction: Cheryl Gambro, Principal of Reuther M.S., met in the office conference room at Reuther with the three science teachers from Brandon and four from Reuther in addition a Reuther teacherfacilitator. Also present were Lauren Childs and Jean Schmeichel from Oakland Schools. After welcoming everyone, principal Gambro turned the meeting over to the teacherfacilitator. The group reviewed the learning goal or Hypothesis: Will students achieve a deeper level of thinking after multiple implementations and teacher reflections of a chosen routine?
Since this was the third and last of the three sessions, teachers recorded Data Point 3 of their individual action research project and reflected on it using the Student Thinking Continuum and Data Recording Sheet. (See November 18 post.)
Opportunities Protocol with Student Artifacts: Two Reuther teachers brought student work/artifacts to be reviewed by the group using the Opportunities Protocol. The following is an example of the science task and its completion by a student. This task, a chart on light and sound traveling through different mediums. This was given at the end of the unit. Using the routine explanation game, the students were asked to 1) Name it – Name what you see in the chart. Do you see any patterns? 2) Explain it: Explain what is causing the outcomes that you see.
Vacuum Space 
Speed of light 
Speed of sound 
Vacuum Space 
299,792, 458 
None 
Gas 
299, 7100,000 
340 
Liquid 
225,000,000 
1490 
Solid 
199,000,000 
5200 



· Name it: vacuum/space has the highest speed of light.
· A solid has the highest speed of sound.
· A vacuum/space has 0 speed of sound.
· A gas has a higher speed of light than a liquid.
· The speed of light and the speed of sound for each item are opposite of each other.
Explain it: Sound travels fastest in a solid because it has more molecules to travel through.
Light travels fastest in space or a vacuum because there are not molecules to get in the way of the light traveling through.
Students used pictures and written explanations to Explain why they thought it was happening.
The next step for the teachers at Reuther is to begin using student friendly thinking continuums. Students will begin evaluating themselves to determine how much they are pushing their own thinking. These scores will never be used as a grade, but will be used to evaluate students personal growth. Everyone is excited to start the next step of our Cultures of Thinking adventure.
Summary of discussion on using the Opportunities Protocol to reflect on student work (See task above). The facilitator asked the group to consider the following questions: 1) What do you see/Does the student display the level of thinking essential for the task? 2) How could we “bump it up” and engage the student in deeper thinking? Teachers used the Student Thinking Continuum to guide their discussion. This continuum has scale from 14 to rate or identify the extent to which the following kinds of thinking take place: Considering Viewpoints, Describing What’s There, Reasoning with Evidence, Building Explanations, Making Connections, Capturing the heart and Forming Conclusions, Wondering, Uncovering Complexity.
Discussion and Analysis of the Opportunity by Group. T=Teacher, F=Facilitator
T: They are building theories and making connections.
F: Is it possible to complete this without engaging in deeper thinking?
T: No
F: Can students go to deeper understanding without having it explained by the teacher?
T: They will go there on own.
F: What suggestions do you have to push to deeper thinking?
T: Ask who would need or use this kind of data in everyday life?
T: The could deepen their explanations
T: Talk about the differences in the way sound and light conducted through the materials?
F: Is there a routine to follow up to push deeper?
T: Ask What Makes You Say That?
T: Have them design a research question to go deeper?
T: Step Inside. ConnectExtendChallenge
T: What do you wonder about? What do you not understand?
F: What tells us students are developing as thinkers as opposed to just completing the assignment?
T: Go deeper with the Why.
T: Drawing cause and effect conclusions.
T: Have them follow up on what they wonder?
F: How do we get the students to ask themselves these Questions? What suggestions do you have for the teachers to further encourage students to ask themselves these questions?
T: Write what you don’t know. Think/Puzzle/Explore.
T: Pair them up and have them rate themselves; then pair from different ends of the spectrum and discuss their ratings; allow modifications.
Comments from Presenting Teachers:
C: They knew about sound and had already done experiments with it. They did not get the light part.
C: “Why” part was hard for them.
What Did We Learn?
T: Started with Explanation Game this year. It is not one of the students’ favorites. In science it does not work so well. I will try another routine.
T: Other routines could be embedded into this routine like See/Think/Wonder.
T: Add turn and talk. In science the content focuses on facts.
T: Application of what they learned needs more emphasis or follow up. Why do we need to know this; why is it important?
T: Good routine for end of the unit.
T: We did not include the part on generating alternatives.
T: At the beginning of the year model what depth of thinking looks like and sounds like. Use DOK wheel. This gives a concrete model to help with understanding the abstraction of thinking.
T: Use exemplars, artifacts from previous classes that are good models. Use graphic organizers to record thinking. There is thinking going on that is not on the paper.
T: Do a thinking log prior to recording on the activity sheet. Use four C’s and extra category. Gives more data to thinking. Use them to make connections across topics, etc. These are not graded.
Questions to Guide a ThreeStep Reflection on Data: 1) Think about your data using these questions to guide you. 2) Discuss your thinking with a partner from your own school. 3) Discuss with someone from our partner school.
 How did I best determine that deeper thinking occurred?
 What cultural force or forces most contributed to my student’s deeper thinking? Explain
 What do I feel best contributed to the deeper thinking achieved?
 What would I adjust or do differently to move my students along the thinking continuum?
 Did my predetermined studentthinking match the thinking that actually occurred? Explain.
 Did my routine achieve the type o thinking that I wanted students to achieve?
 How can I assist students in analyzing their own thinking?
Discussion on Take Aways and Questions Forward:
T: I saw trends in student thinking. It depended upon the student’s interest in topic. In Science we move from one topic to the next.
T: We should start with a theme maybe around the 8 Cultural Forces and apply the routine to different applications of the theme.
T: The way I presented made a big difference. My learning made a difference in the way they could use the routine. I made changes based on the first results in the way I chose to set up the routine. This made a difference? Now, I think where I am week, they pick up the slack.
T: I noticed that if I modeled for them, it made a big difference. This gives them an idea what I am expecting.
T: Choosing one routine for all three topics may not be the best since it may not match what we are doing. Rather, I think we should choose a theme and then match the routine to the expected outcome. I think the set up of our initial plan was flawed.
T: I think we should start with key expectations and then see if that happens. We need to take more time for students to reflect and think about thinking.
T: Expose students to the Student Thinking Continuum. Show it to them; model it, show student work examples.
T: Students could evaluate their own thinking using the Continuum. Middle school students are very honest about this.
F: What about the reflection piece. How would they record their progress over time?
T: Highlight on the rubric the indicators that provide the evidence to their markings.
T: They could score themselves and graph the data. What would be the independent variable and dependent variable?
F: We could have them rate themselves early and then at the end of a unit to control time, content, interest in topic and maturation, etc. You would hope they become more interested as they learn through the unit.
T: We need to make the distinction between knowledge and thinking processes.
F: I have heard you say that they are thinking more about their thinking. If you compare beginning, middle and end across units, you could measure thinking.
T: Give them more opportunities to reflect.
Using Compass Points to Guide Closure:
F: What was surprising?
T: I still have some students at a 1 on the rubric even after three learning opportunities. For some students other learning hurdles interfere with progress.
T: It could be the topic. The boys write less. This may be due to the topic.
F: Maybe we should ask the students what would be the best way to record to their thought processes?
T: Remember that the amount of writing does not mean deep thinking.
T: Using the language of CoT changes our language and the language of students. When we model by saying: “I am thinking…. “Can I make a connection…..’”, etc., they start using the language from the routines more.
T: This is working but our design was flawed.
F: What is next for this work to determine if students are thinking deeper? We know we are using routines but what is the impact on thinking? Does deep thinking mean the same as deeper understanding?
T: Start having them look at their own thinking? Clarify our expectations and what we need to do to improve.
F: What are our needs?
T: We need to decide how to control variables and how to collect our data.
T: We need guidance for next year. Is it worth a year two in Science? At Brandon, some of us are changing grades and curriculum.
Principal Gambro: At Reuther we could use PD time to do this. We could use a thematic approach and include other departments.
F: What were some excitements?
T: This improved the conversations among students and teachers. I noticed that kids build on each other’s ideas rather than repeating ideas.
T: It was exciting to develop a relationship with Brandon and find out that common things are going on.
T: Brandon is small so it is great to be able to collaborate with other M.S. teachers.
Action Research Analysis: Scoring the Last set of Artifacts
Recording Third Data Point and Reflecting on the Results.
Teachers were reminded of the Hypothesis: Will students achieve a deeper level of thinking after using the same routine in multiple implementations and reflections? For each of the three meetings of this Customized Tour, each teacher brought student artifacts to score against the Student Thinking Continuum. He/she recorded the data in the data sheet developed by the group.
The pattern in the data revealed that deeper thinking did occur over time, from the first data collection point to the third, with significant variances. However, overwhelmingly the teacher’s improved use of the routine was the least impactful reason. More importantly, the awareness and deliberate use of the other eight cultural forces contributed to the deeper thinking. For example, modeling of deeper thinking expectations (i.e. samples or rubrics), increased and improved interactions, more opportunities for studentled discussions, more time allowed for discussions, and improved teacher language leading to improved student language (i.e. use of thinking prompts).
Other outcomes from action research: 1. Students need time for reflection. Thinking logs could be established so students can reflect over time on how their knowledge/thinking has improved. 2. Movement on the thinking continuum is unique to each student. 3. Students need time for individual thought before group or paired discussions. 4. Deeper thinking can be reflected on the number of openended questions that students generate, having more questions than answers, and more connections to other curricular areas. 5. Not all thinking is recordable. Deeper thinking is heard in discussions, but may not be written down.
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