Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.
We need our students to think. For many they are trained to put answers on a line. If there is no line, there must be no question. The directions and information above the lines can easily be ignored. The whole exercise, for those who can get it all right without reading and for those who can get is mostly wrong without reading, is a waste of time. This is one example of why I feel so strongly about conversation as a learning tool. This same exercise, shared with a partner with the expectation that answers need to be defended, requires thinking. The students can learn more about what they know and/or what they don’t know.
Graphic organizers are a great way to have students think. I have created a formative assessment called “Know or No”. I give students a list of words on a current topic for them to rate their knowledge. They can then line up in a continuum showing their understanding. This line is then folded and students are paired to talk about the word(s). This formative assessment can used before, during, and after instruction. Students, of course, should grow in their knowledge, but they should also be aware of that growth.
Another great graphic organizer to use is a tree chart. Students fill in each section with whatever information they can think of. For example; thinking – always… helps, thinking – sometimes… is hard, thinking – never… costs money. I have seen many of these on TPT and have made many of my own. Here is a new one on Thinking for today’s blog. The others are examples of ones I have used with my class.
I hope you give your students many opportunities to think and talk every day!