Visible Thinking Routines

Make Thinking Visible - our classroom culture!

Visible Thinking Routines

Teachers can go to the Visible Thinking Website to learn more about Visible Thinking and detail lessons to integrate into your daily classroom routines.

Core Thinking Routines- What Makes You Say That?

Whole class or table groups: Students describe an object or concept and support with evidence. Make a class/table list of descriptions. Interpretation / Justification T-Chart


What's going on?

What do you see that makes you say that?

What do you know?

What makes you say that?

Core Routine: Think Puzzle Explore

A routine that sets the stage for deeper inquiry. Activates prior knowledge, generates ideas and curiosity. Use when introducing a new topic. concept, or theme. Use chart paper or post it notes.


What do you THINK you know about this topic?

What questions or PUZZLES do you have?

What does the topic make you want to EXPLORE?


Use t-chart to record Think / Puzzle / Explore thinking


Class can choose the most interesting questions to Explore more in small groups.

Core Routine: Circle of Viewpoints

A routine for exploring diverse perspectives. Use this routine to open discussions about dilemmas and controversial issues or current events.


Brainstorm a list of different perspectives and then use this script to explore each one:


1. I am thinking of .....topic....... from the point of view of ......... (different points in space or different points in time)

2. I think ........from your view point chosen in #1 (thoughts, feelings)

3. A question I have from this viewpoint is..........


Use t-chart to record Point of View, their thinking, their questions.


class follow up - What new ideas do you have about the topic that you didn't have before? What new questions do you have?

Core Routine: I used to think ......., but now I think ........

A routine for reflecting on how and why our thinking has changed over time. Students identify their new understanding, opinions, and beliefs.


Think back to when we began our unit of study on .........

I use to think ..........


Now think about how your ideas and thoughts have changed as a result of your studying.

But now, I think or understand .........


Students will write and then share/explain their shift in thinking.

Core Routine: Compass Points

A routine for examining propositions. Students will explain/reflect about an idea and evaluate it.


This routine works well to explore various sides or facets of a proposition or idea prior to taking a stand or expressing an opinion. Reflect from all sides of the issue.


For the first time using this routine -- model with the whole class and record responses

Draw a compass with the E, W, N, S points of the circle.


E = Excited - What excites you about this idea or proposition? What's the upside or positive side of this topic or issue


W = Worrisome - What do you find worrisome about this idea or proposition? What is the downside or negative side of this topic or issue?


N = Need to Know - What else do you need to know or find out about this idea or proposition? What additional information would help you to evaluate the issue or topic?


S = Stance or Suggestions for Moving Forward - What is your current stance or opinion on this idea or proposition? How might you move forward in your evaluation of this idea or proposition?


Another option -- Complete S = Stance first and then go through the other compass points, returning to S. Has your thinking changed after discussion using the other compass points routine?

Dripping Springs Elementary School

Mrs. Stoll is a 4th grade teacher at Dripping Springs Elementary School.