Cultures of Thinking

Pine Knob Elementary

What is Cultures of Thinking?

Cultures of Thinking are places in which a group’s collective, as well as individual, thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members.

Key Goals of Cultures of Thinking


· gain a deeper understanding of content.

· are more motivated to learn.

· develop stronger thinking and learning abilities.

· develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and effective oral / written communication.

What does it look like in the classroom?

Our teachers model strategies and share their own thinking right along with the students. Students understand that thinking is valued and expected. Teachers have access to the story of learning.

Why Cultures of Thinking?

We Use To Think...

  • Teachers delivered the information
  • Children memorized learning for a test
  • There was a focus on the work over the learning

Now We Think...

  • Teachers facilitate or coach the children through the learning process, retrieving information about their thinking and understanding to help differentiate the instruction
  • Children actively participate in their learning by questioning, supporting their thinking with evidence, collaborating, and modeling
  • Learning is the ultimate goal, not the work; understanding the purpose of learning and reflecting on ways to improve

Evidence of Practice

Thinking routines are the tools teachers use to engage student thinking and build understanding. There are over 40 thinking routines that can be used at all grade levels and across the curriculum.

Reading Unit, CSI Thinking Routine

This is a routine that thinks about the big idea or theme in what is read, seen, or heard. In this example, the student made connections about the process of reading and how she identified herself as a reader. She used metaphorical thinking to connect the new ideas that emerged with something already know - a color and a symbol.

How Can You Learn More About Pine Knob's Cultures of Thinking?

Pine Knob chose to implement the instructional initiative generated by Harvard University, Project Zero research team, known as Visible Thinking or Cultures of Thinking. Visit the following websites to learn more:

Or contact Pine Knob principal, Jodi Yeloushan, at or 248-623-3900.