Wondering / Making Connections / Mind-mapping

Wondering / Making connections / Mind-mapping

ATL SKILL: Thinking

Students are able to effectively ask the right questions, make connections, and communicate new understandings

APPLICATION AT NIS – the Thinking Routines outlines below are taken from Ron Ritchhart’s Thinking Routines.  References page numbers refer to his book Making Thinking Visible (2011).


See – Think – Wonder (pp 55-59)

This routine capitalises on the power of evocative images (static, info-graphic, video, etc) by developing the skill of observation.  The purpose of this routine is to slow us down and pay attention to detail.  It is often used at the beginning of a unit of study.

  • Choose an appropriate image that has a degree of ambiguity to it and has layers.
  • Present the image in a way that everyone has access to it.  Students may work as a whole class, in groups, or in pairs.
  • Allow 2-3 minutes for close observation – no talking or discussion.
  • SEE: Ask students what they noticed; share.
  • THINK: Ask students what they think is going on.  Questions may be: Based on what we are seeing and noticing, what does it make us think?  What kinds of interpretations can we form?  What else is going on here?  What do you see that makes you think that? Share.
  • WONDER: Ask students what they are wondering about based on what they have seen and have been thinking.  To ensure that “wonder” goes beyond “think”, suggest that wondering is about asking broader questions that push us beyond our interpretations to look at ideas and issues.  Share.

No template has been developed.  If you have one to share, please send it to Kasson to post here.


Chalk Talk (pp 77-81)

This routine allows all students opportunity to contribute ideas.   It requires students engage in “silent conversation”.  It is often used during or near the end of a unit of study.

Materials needed: timer, chart paper, markers.

  • Prepare questions or prompts that allow students to “dig deeper” into an issue.   Avoid single words as this may result in students only reporting on what they know, rather than engaging in richer discussions and interactivity.   Consider questions or prompts that are controversial and encourage multiple reactions.
  • Set up chart paper and markers on tables throughout the room.  Decide whether you want students to work in pre-assigned groups, or to be allowed to float freely from station to station.
  • Present the prompt.  Give a time frame.  Remind students that there should be no talking.
  • Encourage students to read and add to each other’s responses with additional comments and questions. Provide time for students to circulate to do so or to rotate as guided by you.
  • Debrief: have students return to their original paper.   Ask groups what themes they noticed were emerging, and what surprised them.  Ask groups how their thinking developed during this routine.


Generate – Sort – Connect – Elaborate (pp 124-128)

This routine helps students to devise quality concept maps (rather than fact maps) by requiring students to brainstorm and make connections and clarify their thinking.  The focus must be wide enough for multiple lines of interpretations to be developed.  It is often used near the end of a unit of study.

  • GENERATE: Prepare a focus word or prompt.  Ask students to generate a list of words, ideas or aspects or components associated with the prompt. It can be added to at any time. Before going to the next step, students need at least 5 or 6 items.  Students may work alone at this stage, or may work with a partner or small group to encourage discussion.
  • SORT: Ask students to sort ideas according to how central or tangential they are.  More central idea should be located near the centre; more peripheral ideas should be near the outside.  Students should work with a partner or small group to encourage discussion and debate about priorities.
  • CONNECT: Ask students to connect ideas by drawing lines between ideas and to write an explanation of the connection on the line.   Multiple lines may highlight a range of connections.
  • ELABORATE: Ask students to choose a few central ideas and elaborate on them, creating sub-categories that break the ideas into smaller parts.
  • Share the thinking though presentations to the class or with another group.

See attached template, to be modified for learning, as desired.

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