Written and edited by Ellen Cale, Troy School District, Troy, MIchigan
Editor's note: This website began in
September 2011 when the Troy School District set out to explore the possibilities and implement the ideas of Ron Ritchhart's first book, Making Thinking Visible. My position in Troy encompassed providing professional development and support to Troy teachers as they made this journey. This website documents the shared learning of teachers and administrators in the district. Although I retired from Troy in June 2015, I continue to be involved in Cultures of Thinking professional development in Oakland County. I can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the Visible Thinking Conversation
Welcome to the 4th year of this conversation in the Troy School District. All 12 elementary schools and one middle school in our school district have either completed or are in the second year of professional learning with Ron Ritchhart and/or Mark Church. This past September, the three remaining district middle schools were joined by our three high schools to begin this journey of professional learning! This website is a documentation of our the ideas about teaching and learning that we have uncovered. As you explore this website, begin with What's New and then join us in our discoveries by taking a look at other pages. .
This conversation is entering it's 3rd year. By the end of June 2014, all elementary principals and one middle school assistant principal along with a group of teacher leaders, will have engaged in professional learning with Ron Ritchhart and/or Mark Church.
Wherever you are in your study and creation of Cultures of Thinking, I hope you will visit these pages often for ideas and pictures of practice as they have evolved and continue to grow in the context of Troy School District curriculum. The information on these pages is the documentation of your efforts to establish thinking routines and build Cultures of Thinking in your classrooms. So, please keep in touch so your many stories and ideas can be shared with others.
To find our what is new this month, click on the "What's New" button below.
A Culture of Thinking
"When you see the thinking, you know the learning." -Ron Ritchhart
A Culture of Thinking is a learning environment where thinking is valued, visible and actively promoted. Thinking Routines are instructional strategy scaffolds that empower teachers to move student learning from just knowing the correct answers to thinking about, looking closely at, understanding and questioning what is being presented. The thinking and questioning language of the routines tap what Ron Ritchhart and his colleagues call "thinking moves" that encourage students to delve more deeply into their learning and make their thinking visible. From this, the culture of the classroom begins to change. Soon everyone is asking "What makes you say that?" and a community of inquiry and thoughtful learning begins to grow. Engaging in this quest to look at teaching and learning in new ways becomes the classroom norm rather than something new to try.
I have often said that implementing Visible Thinking strategies is like letting the genie out of the bottle. When teachers see how much more capable our students are than we have given them credit for in the past, it would be unthinkable to go back to the "sit and get" structure of teaching and learning.
What does it say about us when we are surprised at student thinking?