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Apr 13

Developing a Culture of Thinking in Music

Using Inquiry Learning in Music

Grade 2, Way Elementary, Bloomfield Hills

Reflection by Mandy Oberst, Teacher, (4/13/15)


Second grade students don’t typically learn about the whole note. However this year I found myself giving students a little taste of the whole note due to their inquiries. As I taught the half note and added it to the music tree, along with the quarter note and double eighth notes, students were quick to start asking questions about what comes next. It was exciting as a teacher to watch students make connections among the notes and still have such a desire to continue their learning. How could I resist? I gladly continued their learning and introduced the whole note.

A few weeks later the second graders and I were working on composing rhythms. Naturally, the students asked to use the whole note and of course I was happy to let them. However, I didn’t foresee the problems that would arise. When students finished composing their rhythms,  they practiced playing them on a percussion instrument and then performed for the class. Students found themselves using rhythms sticks and casabas that didn’t sustain a whole note. My first reaction was to fix the problem to “help” the student. However, this time I became an audience member and watched the productive struggle that students were having. Occasionally I would ask questions that might allow them to talk through the difficulty they were having or questions to guide the student to notice that they had re-written their composition to accommodate the instrument.

After watching their struggles I am so glad that I took a back seat to their learning. They came up with many ideas and solved their problems on their own. This allowed the students to make connections between the different notes and to really capture the heart of their compositions and the processes that composers go through when composing music.

Apr 02

Combining Step-Inside and Sentence-Phrase-Word in Science

Combining Step-Inside and Sentence-Phrase-Word

Grade 5 Earth Science

Katie Weitzel, Teacher, Bemis Elementary

Troy Public Schools (3.26.15)

Background Information: Bemis Elementary has a diverse student body. Of the 572 students, approximately 60% are Asian, and 7% are on Free or Reduced Lunch. While Bemis is in its fifth year of its Culture of Thinking journey, Katie Weitzel is in her second year of teaching at Bemis Elementary after nine years of teaching in Florida.

Prior to the lesson: This class has been studying Earth Process in science. The students have engaged in thinking and labs to deepen their understanding about how the inner Earth works. They are learning about Alfred Wegener, the father of the Continental Drift Theory, who proposed his theory in 1920 under considerable ridicule. After his death, he was though to be a genius. Students have read an excerpt about his life and looked at it from the eyes of 1920 scientist who were the critics that he was trying to persuade. During a class reading, they stepped inside the minds of 1920 scientists/peer-critics of Wegener. After the reading, they worked with a partner and used SPW to try finding evidence for his theory that might change the minds of his critics. They also listened to the first part of the Continental Drift Song.

In the current lesson, students will be going cross circular with reading and writing in science. They will step back 30 years and step inside the perspective of Alfred Wegener as if he were alive today. The Sentence-Phrase-Word will be introduced for the purpose of connecting students with the perspective of Alfred Wegener.

Lesson Objective: Students will revisit the ideas of Alfred Wegener and his Continental Drift Theory. They will use Step-Inside and Sentence-Phrase-Word (SPW) to make connections, ask questions, and identify key ideas to create deeper understanding as they go beyond first impressions.

Life Skills: Listening, Observing, Verbalizing, Collaborating and Inferring.

Assessment: Informal observation of student performance and group discussions serve as forms of assessment. Mrs Weitzel checked for understanding, formative assessment, during Sentence Phrase Word.  She asked clarifying questions like “What Makes You Say That?”  after they choose a sentence phrase or word.  She also asked clarifying questions of the rest of the class during group discussion time to make sure they are gaining the learning that is expected during Sentence Phrase Word. The Step-Inside student artifacts were measured as formative assessment against the Assessment Chart created by the class. The students will be evaluating their own work against a rubric they created to make sure they are working towards their personal goals. We will also be using the step inside artifacts as a summative assessment to check for deeper understanding of the content being taught.

During the lesson: Mrs. Weitzel asked students to share some of the sentences from using the Sentence, Phrase Work Routine that were examples of evidence in the article on Alfred Wegener’s theory.  Examples of the discussion follow:

T: Let’s share the sentence-phrase-words you chose from the article that were important in this article.

Student Sentence Reasoning
S #1 Wegener was fascinated and searched out other papers about continental coincidences. A lot of scientists didn’t believe him. He went on to find more evidence. 


S#2 “The Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America appear to fit together neatly, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.”  The map shows that they fit like a jigsaw puzzle. 


S#3 “They cited as evidence fossils of identical animals that had lived in both areas simultaneously hundreds of millions of years ago.”  The sentence says that this is evidence.




Student Phrase Reasoning
S# 4: “pieces of jigsaw puzzle…” Because the map shows the coasts could fit together.
S#5: “During the last few decades….” They kept studying this and he finally got his recognition
S#6: “Continents floated more like icebergs….” He was mostly right but was missing one piece of evidence so its “more like”
S#7 “idea I have to pursue…” He was a determined man/scientist.


Student Word Reasoning
S#8 Determined Kept trying
S#9 Hero If you know something is right you can do something about it. He shows us how to handle that.
S#10 Perseverance He believed in himself.

Next they read a short informational article on Alfred Wegener’s Finally Recognized that described how the development of plate tectonics in the 1960’s lead scientist to realize that Wegener was a genius before his time. Using a Step-Inside template Mrs. Weitzel asked students to imagine that Alfred Wegener were alive in the 1960’s to consider what he would think, feel, see and do when he was recognized as a genius by fellow scientist. Next they wrote a paragraph with the starter: “Hi, I am Alfred Wagener……………  The following is an example of one student’s response.

“Hi, I am Alfred Wagener. Finally people have understood my theory of The Continental Drift. I am sick and tired of being ridiculed by my fellow scientist. My friends, Alfred Holmes and Harry Hess, are the best ever. I will continue to gather more evidence. I need to know for sure why continents move. I am going to study the interior of the earth.”

 After the Lesson: Students will use the Microlab Protocol to share out their Step-Inside paragraphs. The conversation will be debriefed as a classroom.

  Debriefing Session with Katie Weitzel

(V= Visitor; KW=Katie Weitzel)

 V: I liked the use of the iPad.

KW: I used the Nobility APP to show the article and do the highlighting

V: I loved the students’ responses. One girl put this on Twitter.

V: When you started Visual Thinking, what was the first routine that you did?

KW: I used Chalk Talk in social studies and also What Makes You Say That. Then I moved to See-Think-Wonder and Headlines.

V: I like your Peal The Fruit Protocol on the bulletin board.

KW: I used Color, Symbol, Image (CSI) to fill the outer circle. One group used the image of a scissors for the Revolutionary War. They chose it because it showed that we cut the ties with Britain.

V: When you used CSI, did you feel successful right away?

KW: That routine takes time. It is hard for students. You need to model your own thinking to help them to get this. Start by giving them a set of symbols to pick from and have them defend their choice.










Apr 02

Embedded Chalk-Talk with Tug of War in Writing

First Graders Use Embedded Chalk-Talk with Tug of War

Social Action Opinion Writing Unit

Morgan Pertler, Teacher, Bemis Elementary

Troy Schools, March 26, 2015 

Background: Bemis elementary has a diverse student body. Of the 572 students, approximately 60% are Asian, and 7% are on Free or Reduced Lunch. While Bemis is in its fifth year of its Culture of Thinking journey, Morgan Pertler is in her second year of teaching at Bemis Elementary having taught kindergarten last year and now first grade. She finds it interesting to see the change in student thinking from K to 1st grade.

Visible Thinking Routine —Tug of War: In this first-grade classroom, students are in the middle of the MAISA Social Action Writing Unit 5. They are addressing the issue: Should first-graders get their own individual iPads at school? They are using Chalk-Talk and the Tug of War routines to plan and rehearse opinions and to provide supportive reasons and possible solutions as they prepare for writing an opinion letter. They are in the middle of a Social Action Writing Unit.   The Chalk-Talk routine helps students to individually generate and then share ideas. The Tug of War routine allows students to think about issues from multiple perspectives when deciding if an issue is fair. This helps them to see that there are multiple viewpoints to consider while also helping them to generate reasons to support a claim.   It also gives students the opportunity to share orally and to   hear each other’s thinking. They also get a chance to change their thinking as they hear the thinking of their classmates.

Teaching Points:  

  • Students will consider reasoning from both sides of an argument and individually decide which side has the stronger evidence.
  • Students will take a stance on an issue and support it with evidence and reasoning.
  • Students will develop a Social Action Letter to persuade readers of his/her opinions/argument.

Prior to this Lesson: Ms. Pertler met with visitors before the lesson and shared the following information. Over the past month, students have learned how to develop a social action letter by a) Creating a class social action letter as a model; b) Using Chalk Talk to generate ideas related to issues in school, at home and in the neighborhood; c) Using Claim-Support-Suggestions to plan and rehearse the elements that make a well-rounded persuasive letter. During the week prior to the current lesson, students used the Tug-of-War format to generate an additional list of school problems, e.g. should birthday treats be allowed at school? The topic selected for the social action letter is: Should first-graders at Bemis have their own school provided iPads to use at school and take home? At Bemis, third graders have their own iPads but first graders do not.   In preparation for this unit, the first grade teachers created a fake interview wit1st grade teacher in Ohio who has one to one iPads for her students. The purpose of the article was to have a source appropriate for grade 1 students that provided reasons for both pro and con arguments for having one to one iPads. The students read the article first with then teacher and then with a partner and highlighted evidence for their positions.

Tug of War line

Tug of War line

During the Lesson: With students seated on the carpet, Ms. Pertler asked them to think about their social action question: Should first-graders have their own school provided iPads to use at school and take home? She reminded them that they would be writing a social action letter about this. Notice how Ms. Pertler embeds Chalk-Talk into the lesson prior to doing the Tug-of-War. The following is a summary of the lesson.




T: Share why we want to do a Tug-of-War before we write our Social Action letter.

S: To plan for writing the letter.

S: We get a chance to change our thinking before we write the letter.

S: We get reasons for supporting our position in the letter.

(Embedding Chalk Talk: In the front of the room, an easel with “Yes” stands to the left and with “No” stands to the right. In the center on the White Board is a tug of war “rope” with Yes at one end and No at the other.)

Tug of War No Board

Tug of War No Board

T: Should first graders have individual iPads at school? Think of your position now before we do the Tug-of-War. Think of things you read in the article (See Prior to the Lesson) that helped you with reasons why or why not. Then each of you write your name on your white sticky note and place it on the rope to show which side you are on now. Put it on the line on the front board. Then, on one of your yellow sticky notes write one piece of evidence for why you should and place it on the Yes Easel/Board. On the other yellow note write one piece of evidence for why you should not and place it on the No Easel/Board. Then turn to your partner and talk about what you wrote on your notes.

Yes Board

Yes Board

S: (Write and place yellow notes on the easels and white note on the Tug of War line.) Examples of responses:

  • No, we get too much screen time and it would be bad for your eyes.
  • Yes, we can do book talks on them.
  • Yes, they will help us learn.
  • No, some kids might download wrong things.
Tuge of War Outcomes

Tuge of War Outcomes

T: For the first time, we have some white notes in the middle of the line, indicating that you are in between “yes” and “no”. This is interesting.   Let’s share our reasoning now. (SP = student position; SR= student response to position.

SP: No -because the screen time may mean we will have to to wear glasses.

SR: I disagree because I have glasses and it is not because I had too much screen time.

SP: Yes-If we had our own; the charge on the teacher’s iPad would last longer because we would not all be using it.

SP: No-some kids may download games that are not learning games.

SR: We could get permission to get games from the teacher.

SR: Our teacher could use Air Watch to see what we are doing.

SP: Yes –We could still do homework on holidays like the article said.

SR: Some kids might want that some may not.

SP: No – If we use an iPad, we won’t have work to put on our walls.

SR: We could use sticky notes and make a poster for the walls.

SR: We could work on the iPads in certain subjects and not in others.

SP: Yes –We could do homework and do catch-up work better than writing on paper.

SR: If we do it on paper we won’t break anything that cost a lot of money.

T: What do you think about breaking iPads?

SR: Mr. Whan could fix it.

SR: There are cases for iPads that protect them so if you dropped it you would not do too much damage.

SP: No- iPads are a waste of a lot of money we may need.

T: Who should buy them?

SR: We could bring our own.

SR: Some kids might have personal games and if some others use it,

they might play the games instead of doing schoolwork.

SR: Have a password so they could not use it.

SR: I have a connection to make to that. I have a password and I got locked

out because I forgot it.

SR: Then you would have to write on paper.

T: Did anyone hear something that made you change your mind about you position?

SR: From Yes to No: iPads can be broken; Hard on our eyes; Waste of money.

SR: From No to Yes: Air Watch by teacher can help.

T:   Go to the line and stand by your position.

S: After some shuffling, Yes = 5.   No = 4. Middle = the rest of the class.

T: Think about this. To write a social action letter, you must have a position. Can you write a social action letter if you are in the middle?

S: The students in the middle changed positions–No = 9 and the remainder of the class = Yes.

After the Lesson: Students will decide who will receive their letters. They will use a planning sheet using the reasons from the Tug-of-War and/or adding their own reasons. Finally they will compose a social action letter for change. After they share their social action letters with each other, they will use I Used to Think/Now I Think to reflect on what they learned. Where appropriate, letters will go to the real audience.

List of letter recipients

List of letter recipients









Post Lesson Meeting with Ms. Pertler: The following is a summary of the debriefing meeting with Ms. Pertler following the lesson. (VC = visitor comment, MP= Morgan Pertler)

VC: You were so smooth in moving students along.

MP: Isn’t it amazing how they come up with things; how they react to each other?

What is nice about building this culture is that we can have different ideas but not be wrong.   All is valued.

VC: You have done a great job of creating a safe environment to share thinking.  It was fun to watch. All students were so engaged and excited to share and you kept reminding them about how brave they were to share their thinking.

MP: Sometimes they don’t have to raise hands; I can just let them talk.

VC: What a life skill they are learning—how to have conversations respectfully.  The take away for me was that I had to look twice to make sure this was a first grade classroom. They were so polite in how they contributed their thinking.

MP: Giving them the opportunity to challenge themselves was a learning curve for me. They know that I see them as learners. Sometimes it goes wrong and I have to turn it around.

VC: I am a teacher of upper el. So many of these things can be used across they grade levels. I loved how you had them kiss their brains. You had so many unique ways to get them on track and keep them going.

VC: Changing their thinking is such a good lesson. I liked the movement you structured in. I liked the way you posed the question, “If you write a social action letter, can you take both sides?

MP: This ties into our building goal on persuasive agreement. Before they actually write we will rearrange the tugs with the strongest on each end. We will discuss this and decide, based on evidence. This is why I have them comment on each other’s ideas.






















Mar 30

Bemis Elementary Building Visit/Tour


Bemis Elementary, Troy Schools

Cultures of Thinking/Visible Thinking Building Visit

March 26, 2015

Background Information: Bemis elementary has a diverse student body. Of the 572 students approximately 60% are Asian, and 7% are Free and Reduced Lunch students.   Bemis was part of the first cohort of schools in the implementation of Making Thinking Visible and Cultures of Thinking in Oakland County. At the beginning, almost every teacher had a chance to hear Ron Richartt which helped to continue the conversations at the building level. Bemis Elementary is currently in its fifth year of implementation. Bemis allocates all their PD time for this focus.

Summary of Building Visit

Jeremey Whan, Principal, welcomed the 100 visitors from around the State. He opened the building visit by introducing a panel of teachers who answered visitor questions structured around the 4C’s thinking routine. Included in each person’s folder was a copy of the 4C’s guiding questions: 1. What questions do you have about connecting Cultures of Thinking to your curriculum? 2. What challenges you about integrating Cultures of Thinking into your classroom, school or district?   3. What key concepts about Cultures of Thinking still puzzle you? 4. What questions do you have about how Cultures of Thinking changes a classroom, school or district culture?

Summary of Opening Q&A (PW=Principal Whan, PT=Panel Teacher, V=Visitor)

 PW: What questions do you have about connecting Cultures of Thinking to your curriculum?

 V: What would you do differently now that you are 4.5 years into this?

PT: Learning is messy. Hard to let go of that teacher in you. We embraced mistakes as opportunities to learn and we saw students of all levels coming up with things that surprised us. Give yourself permission to allow this kind of messy thinking. We started small with one routine at a time as we pushed forward.

PT: You need to have the desire to build the culture. You need to know why you want to do this. Collaboration is important to really grow and push forward.

PT: We focused on one routine and got really good at it. What Makes You Say That was our start and school-wide routine. We put up posters on What Makes You Say That so kids saw it everywhere in the school. This was part of our culture.

PT:   When you first look at the Eight Cultural Forces, you can say you already do that. The routines help highlight the thinking so you build a Culture of Thinking using the Forces. Starting with the routines helps shift the forces to thinking.

PW: Ron speaks to the importance of the routines. They are called a routine for a reason. You are building in a way of doing things.   I would not change our decision to start with the routines. This also helps keep the focus on what is good for all kids.

The student-to-student talk that the routines help to generate also helps our ELL students learn the language.

V: What about the formation of a culture of thinking for the adults? Ron says it starts in the hearts and minds of the staff. What did you do to develop the adult CoT?

 PT:   The most valuable for me was having vertical groups across grade levels and discussing how we used the routine and comparing the results. It gave me so many ideas as a professional on how I could use the routine.

PT: Using the routines gave us a common language. We had to decide what we valued as a building related to CoT. Collaborative relationships are important. They give you that trust that allows you to take the next step.

PW: Panel Teachers, can you talk about our teacher growth goals?

PT: Our teacher goals show why are we doing this. We collect three data points working toward the same goals. For example, improving opinion writing is one of the goals.

PT: It was powerful that we all took the leap of faith together. We read the book together and took the leap together. This helped us all feel comfortable as learners. Because this was a new journey, it pulled us together. We were all allowed success and failure together.

PT: It is important to filter out distracting noise from other venues. Our principal does this for us. He gives us a focus and values staff. This builds relational trust.

PT: We took a step to include our families. We created the Bemis Family Challenge of the Month. This challenge explains a routine and how families can use it. This is helping to get a common language between school and home. While not required, kids can bring artifacts they do at home or tweet experiences.

PW: We visited other districts and read research. Don’t forget to take seriously the research behind this. Get familiar with this especially at the start but check back as you grow. Ron’s next book, Creating Cultures of Thinking, will be our summer study.

V: At what point did you feel that a culture of thinking was acculturated into your school? When and how did you move from a focus on routines to building the culture?

PT:   When the students started using the language with each other and me, and when staff started using the language in our discussions, then we knew this was part of our culture and our culture was changing.

PT: The second year I was more comfortable. I turned our kindergarten pretend play into school play and heard them use the language.   Two of the boys did a Tug of War over who is better Santa or Bemis.

PT: This is my second year in Visible Thinking, To get help, I consulted the 4th grade team and asked how they started this in their classrooms. They said to use What Makes You Say That. The students were familiar with the routine and they are respectful of each other’s thinking.

PW: In year one we went slowly. In year two we opened up the building for other schools to tour. This helped our own learning and accountability.   When we can impact others, we move our own learning forward. Look at our school’s displays that help shape the environment. Notice the process of thinking on the bulletin/visible thinking boards and trace the growth from first try to now.

 V: How do you incorporate technology?

 PT: We use Keynote, I-Movie, and Twitter.   We tweet things out when we feel proud of the thinking. This also gives families a starting point for conversations when students get home. Education APP is also a great tool to use to help see student thinking.

PT: Notability: Kids can highlight or write notes on something for the whole class to see. We have class websites/blogs through Weebly.   Parents and students can see the thinking.  Students and parents can comment to each other.   We share with parents how to set up Twitter accounts.

PT: Tin-blog. We take pictures or videos of their learning over time. My fourth graders can comment on how they think their thinking is changing.   Students like to share their successes with the rest of the world.

PW: Students doing things to share with the outside world rather than to complete a task for the teacher is a big shift in culture. It is not about the teacher; it is about the facilitation of the thinking. Students are engaged with the delivery process. At Bemis the perfect effort is giving everything you have.

Lab Classroom Visits

 Each visitor had the opportunity to observe in one early elementary and one later elementary classroom. For examples of lessons and discussions with teachers, see the posts on this blog for 1) Katie Weitzel’s Fifth Graders Use Sentence, Phrase, Word and Step Inside and 2) Morgan Pertler’s First Graders use Tug of War. Between the two observations in the lab classrooms, visitors returned to the media center to hear Mr. Whan give a brief summary of the Bemis CoT journey.

The Bemis Journey into a Culture of Thinking

 Principal Jeremey Whan opened this session by asking visitors to reflect on their classroom visit and identify here they had seen formative assessment taking place and assessment students enjoyed. He commented that at Bemis assessment is going on all the time; it is part of the instructional process. A goal for the Troy schools has been to incorporate critical thinking K-12.

At Bemis, MEAP scores have steadily gone up since 2010 when they started their Culture of Thinking journey. Mr. Whan noted that what has changed is the culture of school and instructional practices. He emphasized that programs will never be the change you need and that  Ron Richartt’s research shows that test prep doesn’t work. Developing thinking is what makes students able to adapt to any situation. The Bemis School Improvement Plan has an overarching focus on critical thinking. They have three data points that are based on informational reading, information writing and an integrated tech platform titled (Think About It) that is focused on visible thinking questions/routines. The Think About It program is grade level specific (K-5). Each grade level has a question for the Science unit they are studying (quarterly). The questions are aligned with the Common Core Smarter Balanced assessment in that students are required to analyze multiple texts/multi media and then answer the question using evidence from the texts and their reasoning skills. When teachers give this assessment they bring student artifact to grade level meetings and apply the LAST WORD Protocol.   Student artifacts and language are examples of how we know the culture is changing. Our MEAP scores, teacher passion, and student engagement are all examples of cultural change. This web-site/assessment program was created by the Bemis staff and has been shared at state and national levels.

Closing Q&A with Comments

C: Thank you. It had to be a lot of work to prep for this. It was amazing; I learned a lot and enjoyed it.

C: Thank you for helping with learning across the county and state. We heard language across classrooms that indicated thinking and routines.

Q: What else have you studied besides Ron’s work?

A: We had Richartt come and do a session on language. We asked staff to think about where they are in their growth. We took that data and designed PD around that. His new book Creating Cultures of Thinking has chapter 3 dedicated to the importance of a common language. This is an ongoing process. Cot is a process; the routines are the entry point. We branched out as we all grew. Language cuts across all eight forces.

Q: As we begin our journey, we are thinking about times and places for PD. We do a breakfast club. What other suggestions do you have for finding time for PD?

A: First book study was in the summer and we put questions on the blog. Staff got PD hours for participating. We had five one-hour times that we posted. When we returned in the fall we had a retreat at the principal’s house. We had morning book club and coffees times just for teachers. We gave released time using guest teachers.  We pick a routine we don’t see being used and challenge teachers to use it during that month. Then we meet and share results. Contractually we have two hours a month for meetings and we use one for PD. Staff meetings are used for learning and growth. We create time for PD within the structure of the day such as common planning time. We look at planning time as our time rather than my time.

Q: Can you describe the vertical monthly meeting?

A: At one of the vertical meetings we did a Last Word Protocol where we looked at the thinking going on in our building and asked how we could deepen it.

Q: You said you took your State of Michigan focus areas and integrated them into Cot. Can you say more?

A: Our focus areas are reading, technology and writing with the overall goal of critical thinking. In reading we ask how we confer with readers. Our focus is on informational writing. A lesson we learned: simplify things and make the work appropriate and staff will make the best effort if they can see that it is good for kids. Teacher growth goals are also aligned with our SIP goals. Our data supports this.

Q: What impact has this had on your school discipline and behavior?

A: We have increased 20% in population but our discipline has dropped almost 90%. This is anther example of a cultural shift. This gives me, (the principal); time to be an instructional leader. Students are engaged and discipline is less. I use the routines when talking to the students about their problems. The parents appreciate this too. Step Inside,Tug of War and See Think Wonder are good ones to use.





































Mar 25

Reuther-Brandon M.S. Customized CoT Tour,Session 3/3

                       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 teacher-facilitator.  Also present were Lauren Childs and Jean Schmeichel from Oakland Schools.  After welcoming everyone, principal Gambro turned the meeting over to the teacher-facilitator.  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 1-4 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.     Connect-Extend-Challenge

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 Three-Step 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.

  1. How did I best determine that deeper thinking occurred?
  2. What cultural force or forces most contributed to my student’s deeper thinking? Explain
  3. What do I feel best contributed to the deeper thinking achieved?
  4. What would I adjust or do differently to move my students along the thinking continuum?
  5. Did my predetermined student-thinking match the thinking that actually occurred? Explain.
  6. Did my routine achieve the type o thinking that I wanted students to achieve?
  7. 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 student-led 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 open-ended 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.  

























Mar 11

Combining See-Think-Wonder and Zoom-In

Combining See-Think-Wonder and Zoom In

Grade 5 American Revolution Unit

Tammy Polena Teacher, Schroeder Elementary

Troy Public Schools (2.26.15) 


Background Information: Schroeder Elementary began the CoT journey with grade 2 teachers piloting the Making Thinking Visible routines. Now in their 4th year, all staff members are involved and they have moved beyond the routines to developing a culture of thinking throughout the school. To make this cultural change, staff is shifting from teacher-centered instruction, e.g. giving information to students, to student-centered learning where student curiosity and inquiry drive the process.

Prior to the lesson: The students had just completed a unit on life in the colonies. They were familiar with both the See, Think, Wonder routine and the three steps of the Zoom-In routine.   (Step 1) Learners are asked to observe a portion of an image closely and develop a tentative hypothesis or interpretation. (Step 2) As more of the image is revealed, new visual information is presented and learners are asked to look again and reassess their initial interpretation and change if necessary. (Step 3) More of the image is revealed and again learners are asked to assess their interpretations.   This process enables them to understand that it is okay to change their thinking and it is important to be open-minded and flexible in one’s thinking.

The class is ready to begin a unit on the American Revolution using History Alive America’s Past, Chapter 10: Growing Tensions Between the Colonies and Britain. The goal of the observed introductory lesson was: Students will be able to discover and describe the frustration and anger the colonists are feeling towards Britain. Students will keep this in mind as they learn the events that led to these feelings and the American Revolution. To introduce the lesson, Ms. Polena used a colored picture of colonists protesting the Stamp Act. This picture was taken from page 102 of History Alive America’s Past. A black and white copy of the picture can be found at


During the lesson: To introduce the lesson (see above), Tammy Polena combined the use of the See/Think/Wonder and Zoom-In routines. She projected a segmented picture, with all parts darkened , of colonists protesting the Stamp Act (see link above).   With students seated on the carpet facing the white board, she revealed a small part of the picture showing an excited animal. The chart below shows examples of student thinking while they were engaged in using the See-Think-Wonder terminology as the teacher took them through the Zoom-In process.

Examples of what students did and said to show thinking and understanding



Examples of Student Responses (A-B-C, etc.)


Note: Students A, B, etc. are not always the same people across the Zoom-In episodes.

Examples of Teacher Responses(Note,to open up thinking and make it safe to contribute, sometimes teacher responses may be non-verbal or simply acknowledgement of the contribution.)
Zoom-In # 1
A: I think the dog is working on a plantation in the colonies.B: Relating to what she just said, the dog might be running after slaves. Acknowledges responses
Zoom-In # 2
A: The round thing could be a barrel or cannon.B: I agree with him because I read this book about life in the colonies and it said…….. Acknowledges responses
Zoom-In # 3
A:  I think that the round thing is a drum and they are making music to celebrate something.B:  I want to connect with him (A) but I don’t think it is a celebration. I think they are going to war and they wouldn’t celebrate that.

C: It might be a drum signal to others calling for help.

E: I disagree with (C) but agree with (B). I think they are getting ready for war.





Acknowledges responses

Zoom-In # 4
A: I think they won a war and are celebrating.B: I want to connect to my book about Marco Polo who said they would make noise on a ship to scare away intruders. I think they are making noise to scare away someone.

C: Warning or celebrating.

* Oh, you think this is taking place after the event. 


* What about the person up here with the horn, what might he be doing?

Zoom-In # 5
A: No one is happy. The guy is running away. They look scared or wounded.B: He looks like a plantation owner by the way he is dressed. His clothes look rich.

C: The colors might mean different sides.


*Do you think the colors of the clothes mean anything?




Zoom-In # 6
A: My thinking has changed. Now I see a torch and horn. They are calling or warning people.B: I wonder why nobody is next to the woman in red and her child.

C: The man in the tree might be there to warn that the British are coming.


 * And, it’s okay to change your thinking, right?


* He is wondering.

Zoom-In # 7




A: Folly means foolish or silly.

B: They are protesters to save America. They are scared.

C: Because England is invading.


D: England



·       Points to the sign in the picture that reads: Folly of England and Ruin of America.   Revolutionary War·       What does folly mean?

·       What are we thinking now about the mood?

·       Why do you think they are upset?

·       Where did the colonist come from?

·       Do you think some would be loyal to England?



A: They are upset over taxes.

B: Maybe over religion.

Ms. Polena told the students to keep their ideas of this visual in mind as they start the next chapter in social studies. Think about why the people might be upset.


After the Lesson:

Students will read and summarize the key events that created tensions between the colonists and Britain from 1754 to 1774. These include: The Proclamation of 1763, Stamp Act, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, and the Intolerable Acts. Students will also use a metaphor of a parent and child to describe the tense relationship that developed between the colonies and Britain after the French and Indian War.


Mar 11

Claim-Evidence-Reasoning in Grade 3 Math

Claim-Evidence (Proof)-Reasoning in Grade 3 Math

Trista Tacey, Teacher, Schroeder Elementary

Troy Public Schools (2.26.15)

Background Information: Schroeder Elementary began the CoT journey with grade 2 teachers piloting the Making Thinking Visible routines. Now in their 4th year, all staff members are involved and they have moved beyond the routines to developing a culture of thinking throughout the school. To make this cultural change, staff is shifting from teacher-centered instruction, e.g. giving information to students, to student-centered learning where student curiosity and inquiry drive the process.

Prior to the lesson: The class uses Puzzled Penguin about twice a month as part of their math curriculum. The students were familiar with the Claim-Evidence -Reason routine. When using this routine, Puzzled Penguin presents a solution to a problem and asks the students to review it and determine if the solution is correct. If it is not correct, Puzzled Penguin asks them to correct the work and tell what is wrong.

The Claim-Evidence-Support process has three steps: 1) Claim–students make a claim on whether Puzzled Penguin solved the problem correctly; 2) Evidence—Students correct Penguin’s mistakes and solve the problem using their math knowledge to prove their correction. They must show more than one way to solve the problem; 3) Reasoning—Students explain in words what the Penguin did wrong.

During the lesson: Students were seated on the carpet facing the white board. To introduce the lesson (see above), Trista Tacey projected Puzzled Penguin’s work and asked the students to decide if he did it right or wrong. (Student think time).





+     78___



Students turned and talked to a partner as the teacher listened in. After allowing some time for partner discussion, Ms. Tacey asked, “Why do you think he aligned the numbers that way?

Examples of what students did and said to show thinking and understanding

 Examples of Student Responses (S)Examples of Teacher Responses (T)

(Note, to open up thinking and make it safe to contribute, sometimes teacher responses may be non-verbal or simply acknowledgement of the contribution.) Partner Discussion T: Why do you think he aligned the numbers the way he did?

S: Since the top number is a hundreds number, he though it had to align with the hundreds place.

T: Say more about “It is a hundred’s number.

S: (Pauses—Penguin thought that he was supposed to start at the left and go right.

T: Tell me more about that.

S: When you are doing direct addition, you start at the right.

Make a Claim with Evidence DiscussionT: Make a claim with support. Did he solve the problem correctly? Share with your partner and then go to your seat and fill in the boxes for Claim and at least 2 pieces of Evidence to prove your claim. (Work Time)

T: Discuss with your table your claim and support.

T: You have decided that Penguin did the problem incorrectly. What evidence can you give for that?

S: Use rounding to make an estimate.

T: How does rounding help?

S: It helps you see if you are close.

S: Use tally marks to represent the value in the hundreds, tens and ones places.

S: Use expanded notation to represent the problem.

S: Draw pictures to represent the value of each place.

Whole Group Sharing at White BoardT: Come to the carpet and let’s share some of our thinking and evidence using the white board.

S: There are more than 10 ones so I have to make a new group of ten. There are more than 10/10’s so I need to make a new group of 100. The answer is 2 H 4T     6 Ones.

S: I used rounding and rounded 168 to 170.

T: Why did you round to 170?

S: It is the nearest ten.

S: Then I rounded the second number, 78, to 80. I like to put a 0 in the hundreds place to hold it. Now I have 180 + 80 = 260. Compared to Penguin’s 948, he is way off. It is not a reasonable answer. 

After the Lesson: Students will return to their tables and write reasoning statements explaining what Penguin did wrong. For example, Puzzled Penguin got the problem wrong because he aligned the numbers in the two-digit number he was taking away incorrectly. Students then also answered the prompt “Is Puzzled Penguin’s work reasonable? How do you know? Explain your answer”. Although not part of the “Claim, Evidence, Reason” routine, this prompt related back to prior lessons where students learned how to use rounding to determine if an addition equation total was reasonable or not. This was included by the teacher to further understand the students thinking, and to see if they could connect what was taught in prior lessons about rounding to the current lessons of solving addition equations with accurate alignment.


Feb 15

Using “How Does Music Work” as a Through Line to Help Students Think Like Musicians

Thanks to Mandy Oberst, General Music Teacher at Way Elementary, for sharing her reflection on using a through-line to help students think like musicians using music from the Carnival of Animals.


I love the Carnival of Animals.  I love how students connect the music to the animal.  However, it hasn’t always been a connection that supported a conversation about music.  Over the years I have fiddled with my lessons trying to make sure that music was at the heart of it.  This year I put up a Music Burger that I found from Tracy King (you can get it on teachers pay teachers).  It is a great visual that puts the elements of music in front of students.   The music burger guided our conversation.  We started by generating a list of music ideas and terms.  Then as a class we sorted them into the different elements on the music burger.  Understanding the terms  helped our conversation immensely.
 During the study of Carnival of Animals I really enjoyed making the animals a mystery for the students.  They loved coming in and trying to “crack the case”.  For the Swan I put it in a box and the students listened to the music.  While they listened we went through the different parts of the burger and added our ideas.  When we were done we generated a list of animals that matched our criteria.  I would then reveal the swan and the class would be thrilled because they had it on their list!
To crack the case of the tortoise I actually did the opposite.  Again,the animal was in the box, we listened to the music, and recorded our ideas on the music burger.  However, I already generated a list of animals (I used a free bingo sheet of animal pictures http://www.freeprintable.com/free-printable-bingo/animal-bingo-1) and we then started eliminating animals based upon our ideas from the music burger.  Students would make a claim of the animal they think it is and support their thinking from the music burger.
  I took a different approach for the hens and roosters piece.  Studentswould observe and describe what they saw as well as what they heard through a zoom in.  I had on the board a picture but it was covered.  Slowly I would reveal a couple pieces of the picture while they listened to the music.  Students would again make a claim of what the animal could be and support the answer based on the music burger.  Student would think pair share with a partner near them.   We would repeat the process several times until the picture was completely revealed.
It was awesome to walk around and hear students describing the music.  Again, I took a different approach to introduce the fossils.  Students watched an animated score (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zZye8IuobwQ).  There was no sound.  After watching the video I asked the class what they noticed and we recorded it.  Next, I asked them to think like a musician.   They watched the video again with no sound. We again recorded ideas that they had connected with their first results.  First example, they might notice that it goes up and down.  Students will then suggest that the pitches could be moving.  Finally, the third time the class watches the video and listens to the music.  However, I guide their thinking by asking them to focus on our throughline, How does music work?   Students again share their thinking and find support for the claims or may change their thinking based on what they observed.  It is exciting to hear the students discuss elements of music.   I am still working on “bumping up” other pieces but was pleased to hear the discussions that were unfolding and the excitement the students had for the pieces.

Jan 08

Using Compass Points in Music Classroom

Mandy K Oberst Reflects on Using Compass Points

General Music Teacher, Way Elementary

Bloomfield Hills Schools, November, 2014

I am sure that many of you have just finished your concerts for December.  The week of the concert is filled with students coming and telling you how excited they are to be on the stage or how excited they are that their parents are coming.  Not only do you hear the excitement, but often you get suggestions on how to improve the performance  and even a couple of worries.  It tends to be overwhelming when 20 students all approach you at the same time while you are supposed to be rehearsing before your performance.

Over the years, I have started to capture the heart of the performance by using the Compass Points thinking routine.  The students seem to really appreciate the chance to be heard.  It also allows for students that wouldn’t necessarily share their concerns and needs, to have a voice as well.  I ask that every student use at least one sticky note to add to our class Compass Points.  However, I allow them as many as they want.  I rarely have a student that only wants to put up one sticky note.

I ask them to write their name on their sticky and write the letter that corresponds to the compass points on the sticky note.  They write down any needs for N  (I Need to know…) , any excitements for E  (What is excited to you as we prepare for the performance?), any suggestions for S, and any worries for W.  It has helped to make my concerts run more smoothly and has eliminated answering the same questions 30 times (what time do I have to be here, what do I have to wear, when do I go on the stage etc…).

I have four different poster boards (4 classes in a grade) so that I can keep the classes organized.  After the classes leave I organize the sticky notes so that any worries or suggestions etc… that are the same I can address just one time.  I always say the student’s name so they know I have read their sticky and recognize their thoughts as important.

A couple of years ago I was sorting sticky notes and found a worry.  The worry read that they had lost their cat.  While it was a serious worry I realized that I forgot to make sure that the class understood that they were capturing the heart of the musical and making connections to music class.  The students at my school are comfortable with Compass Points so I didn’t spend a lot of time on directions and neglected to remember  that we had new students that hadn’t been doing it for years.  It was very eye opening to notice the culture that had been created.    With that…have a great winter break!


Compass Points Routine in Music


Working on Compass Points in Music

Dec 09

Mandy K Oberst, Music Teacher, Reflects on CoT Throughline

Mandy K Oberst Reflects on CoT Throughline for Music

General Music Teacher, Way Elementary

Bloomfield Hills Schools, November, 2014

I have struggled with my throughline in the general music classroom.  What is a throughline?  When I first started VT I joined a school that had been using throughlines and had already adopted VT.  I was embarrassed to ask so I thought I would just Google it!  Big mistake.  Nothing showed up!  Now I know that a throughline is your big umbrella for the year.  What will every lesson continually be about?  I have tried having a throughline for every grade level but I was so confused that my brain couldn’t keep up.  I have tried having a couple of throughlines that would hit lessons through every grade.  However, nothing seemed to really feel right and fit naturally.  So at the end of last school year I changed it…AGAIN.  I changed it for a couple of reasons.  First my students were not able to tell me any of my throughlines.  Even after continuously repeating it in every class students were not able to tell me any of it.  Secondly, I changed it to make it accessible.  My thought is that if it is natural, students would be able to repeat it easily.   I worked with my VT coordinator and adapted the kindergarten throughline (thanks brilliant kindergarten teachers).  My throughline is now, how does music work?  At the beginning of the year I knew I was headed in the right direction when students noticed it posted on the wall and immediately wanted to have conversations about their thinking surrounding the new throughline.  It has been easy to connect all my lessons to this new throughline and has also made a great conversation starter.

During Thanksgiving students created Headlines that connected to the music throughline.  Students had no difficulties coming up with a wide variety of answers. Some of the students made connections based on their personal experiences; others made connections from music class.


# 1 Using Headlines to Connect to Music Through-line


# 2 VT Headlines Connecting to Music Throughline


Using Headlines to Connect to Music Through-line



Now you’re thinking great, Thanksgiving is over how am I going to use this!  Well, you can change it to a flower (maybe for the end of the year J).    How about a sun (we always dream of the sun in Michigan during winter J).    You don’t have to be cute either.  Have the students generate a list.  They could even sort them helping lead you to more great conversation (generate, sort, connect, elaborate).  If you don’t have the time to include it the way you want, how about keeping a poster board of Headlines from each music class.  You will be surprised how much you accomplish by the end of the year.

This poster board is from second grade from the first couple weeks of school.  You will see that Headlines are repeated.  Some of that is due to multiple second grade classes.  Now I send you all on your way to find your through-line!  Take time with it and feel free to tweak it as you go!  Good Luck!

First Try Using Music Headlines by Second Graders

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