I was seated in the Hussey Commons at Presbyterian Day School today listening to Jim Reese and Ron Ritchhart set the stage for “Project Zero Perspectives: How and where does learning thrive?” Before we began observations in the classrooms, we were reminded that the opportunities to go into a classroom and observe are rare and there is so much to see. So, we needed to focus our observations. We were challenged to look into the classrooms to see where and how thinking is valued, visible, and promoted.
1. Determine if Thinking is Valued
- What specific kinds of thinking are the focus of the lesson?
- Where and when did you see the teacher curious about students’ thinking?
- How will the learning tasks yield understanding, promote original ideas, or engage students in creative problem solving?
2. See if Thinking is Visible
- What routines are used to encourage thinking?
- How does the physical environment reflect thinking?
3. Decide if Thinking is Actively Promoted
- Are students required to elaborate or reason?
- Does the teacher challenge students’ ideas?
- How does the teacher provide space for students to extend, elaborate, or develop their own ideas?
- How does the teacher provide space for students to build on their classmates’ ideas?
These focused questions made time in classrooms purposeful.