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Continuing a Culture of Learning and Collaboration

Projecting Across Time ,+1 routine, Parts, People, Interactions and The 3 Ys are just a few of the more than 20 new Visible Thinking Routines recently released by Project Zero at Harvard University and currently being trialled in a whole school Christian College Geelong (CCG) project. CCG first formally introduced the concept of Visible Thinking to staff in 2015 after our Principal, Mr Glen McKeeman, attended an Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) study tour to Harvard University and met with members of the Project Zero team.

Visible Thinking began as an initiative to develop a research-based approach to teaching thinking dispositions. Good thinking dispositions include being flexible, insightful and productive, being intellectually careful, being able to clarify and seek understanding and being able to think in a broad and adventurous way.

Visible Thinking Routines are about making thinking visible - to teachers and to learners - so as to develop better thinking dispositions overall. Their use helps students see the thinking they are using when they are doing such things as solving problems, compiling useful notes, being creative and considering an idea from a different perspective amongst other activities. Visible Thinking Routines are designed to be simple to use and easy to remember. As well as being a useful part of a teacher’s toolkit, familiarity with routines can allow students to utilise them in a range of situations away from school such as when independent home learning, when at work or participating in sport.

As part of the CCG project, James Johnstone from Junior School - Belmont, Victoria Kent from the Bellarine Campus, Allison Schleutker from Middle School. - Highton, Elissa Huddart from Senior School and Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Rick Geall attended the first of several conference days at Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) in March. Following this training day each teacher selected a number of the new routines to pilot in different classes and to share with colleagues across our different year levels and/or faculties. Specifically, routines are being piloted in various subjects in Years 3, 4 and 7 as well as Year 9 English and Year 10 Science.

Members of the ISV Making Thinking Visible team visited the college campuses in early May to discuss progress of the pilot with each of the staff and a second conference day at ISV follows in August to continue to discuss and develop our use of the routines. The overall project aim is to implement and roll-out tried and tested effective routines across the whole school so as to support and enhance current teaching practices. A presentation about the project was made to a group of teachers drawn from all campuses at the recent Term 2 first day staff conference which was very positively received.

The new Visible Thinking Routines are bundled into four areas based on their underlying purpose. The four bundles are:

  • Portable knowledge – routines which help learners transfer what they learn in particular subjects to other contexts and studies. For example, in Projecting across time, learners are invited to understand a topic across a broad span of time reaching backward into the past and forward into the future.
  • Pathways to Understanding -  routines which develop student’s memory and note taking skills. For example, in +1 routine students work together to compile notes after reading a text, watching a movie or listening to a lecture.
  • Exploring complexity – routines that allow learners to enter and investigate the complexity of ideas, objects and systems from different vantage points. For example, in Parts, People, Interactions, learners think about a system in different ways – What are the parts of the system? Who are the people connected to the system? How do the people in the system interact with each other and with the parts of the system?
  • Global thinking – routines that foster understanding and appreciation of today’s complex globalised world. For example, in The 3 Ys students are assisted in nurturing a disposition that allows consideration of the significance of a situation, topic or issue at the personal, local and global levels by asking Why might this topic matter to me? Why might it matter to people around me (family, friends, city, nation)? Why might it matter to the world?  

These are just some examples of the new routines that join an earlier group of routines such as Predict-Observe-Explain and Think-Pair-Share that have been around for a lot longer and are already well embedded in a number of classrooms. The teachers involved are excited about the extra components of their toolkits and look forward to embedding in curriculum, sharing with our colleagues and contributing an ongoing culture of learning and collaboration at CCG.

Elissa Huddart
Science Teacher
Senior School - Waurn Ponds



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