Friday, December 7, 2012


Time, it's one of the very important 8 Cultural Forces that shape our classrooms.  As a cultural force, it is directed toward thinking by "allocating time for thinking by providing time for exploring topics more in depth as well as time to formulate thoughtful responses".  We are often torn between spending the extra time to explore topics/ideas more deeply and moving on so that the curriculum is "covered".  That is why I was so impressed by the reflections shared around the student artifacts that were presented at our meeting this week.  More than once I heard mentioned that the routine took time but the interactions among students were rich and thoughtful.  Lauren said it best, "I felt this was more valuable than anything else I could have done that day".  Congratulations to all of you for taking on the work of CoT and understanding how powerful the routines can be!  This initiative truly matches our district mission to "Educate students to be their best in and for the world".

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Way Elementary Visit - Spring 2012

Last Spring, Jim, Anna, Lis and Shari had the wonderful opportunity to visit Way Elementary in the Bloomfield Hills School District.  Way has been on their Cultures of Thinking journey for several years.  Our CoT team visited several classrooms to observe thinking routines and experience the cultural shift that has occurred in this school.  They were also able to speak to classroom teachers about Cultures of Thinking.

Below are several pictures from their visit.  It was a valuable experience for the team and we're thankful to Way for opening their doors to us!  I hope you find inspiration and motivation from the slideshow!
Please post a comment below (no matter how short) ...your ideas and responses matter!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Language Across the Content Areas

(Thanks for the pictures, Jim!)

During our last Late Start, as I listened to Margaret's PD session about Language Across the Content Areas, I noticed many connections to our experiences with Cultures of Thinking.  I'm sure many of you felt the same way.  I wanted to write this blog post to open a discussion about this topic.  I hope you'll share what resonated with you and what connections you made to Cultures of Thinking. 

During our CoT seminars, we learned about the 8 Cultural Forces.  Looking back on our PD session, I'm thinking about the video we watched through the lens of these 8 Cultural Forces, particularly the forces of...
  • language (using a language of thinking that provides students with the vocabulary for describing and reflecting on thinking)
  • modeling (modeling of who we are as learners and thinkers so that the process of our thinking is discussed, shared, and made visible)
  • environment (making thinking visible by displaying the process of thinking and development of ideas). 
I wonder how you think these cultural forces were at play in the video? 
Looking over my notes from the Late Start, I really liked the idea of a "Thinking Word Wall" that supports the language and vocabulary of thinking and learning.  When I was in the classroom, I had content word walls and a word wall for word study but never thought of a having a word wall for the language I want to foster in my room.  Sitting in this session made me want to be back in the classroom! 

Connections to CoT:
  • I noticed that the conversation about "What is it like to think like a scientist, mathematician, or historian?" had a strong connection to Cultures of Thinking.  I was particulary struck by Tom and Michelle's comments that there was overlap between all three and that the headings could really be removed. 
  • The overarching question they referred to in the video reminded me of the themes or "through lines" that Anna, Jim, and Lis observed during their visit to Way Elementary.  I'm curious to hear from them about whether or not this overarching question was similar to Way's "through lines."
  • The culture of thinking and learning in the video was compelling.  Like we discussed at our CoT seminars, you can't fake this!  What did all of you think about the culture of this classroom?
Overall, I felt that Margaret's session was closely aligned to our CoT initiative and will be helpful to us as we continue our journey. The learning our teachers experienced on Wednesday will provide a shared experience to refer back to during future late starts and conversations. It also provided a foundation in the principles and values of Cultures of Thinking. 
Please leave a comment (no matter how short) ...your ideas matter!  We can push our thinking forward and motivate each other!   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thinking Routines

Thanks for a great meeting last week!  It is always inspiring to see student artifacts and hear each teacher discuss the thinking routines they have implemented in their classrooms.  I hope you leave these meetings energized!

Here are photographs of a sampling of student artifacts that were shared last week.  If you were unable to attend the meeting, we would love to hear from you in the comments section! 

Please let me know if you want Kim, Jim or I to visit your classrooms for a thinking routine or help you with a blog post!  We are here to help and learn alongside you!

These pictures show how Kelly used Chalk Talk
as a formative assessment in science.


 These pictures show how Lis used her class' Think-Puzzle-Explore chart
to guide their science unit of study. Lis used the students' thinking (seen on sticky notes)
to launch each new concept or experiment throughout the unit.

 I know these pictures are crooked but I'm having issues uploading them on blogspot.  They aren't crooked on my computer!  I'll try to fix them and edit this post another time. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012


This week Lis used the thinking routine Think-Puzzle-Explore to introduce a new science unit about water.  According to our Thinking Routines Matrix, this routine is good at the beginning of a unit to direct personal or group inquiry and uncover current understandings as well as misconceptions.  It's key thinking moves are activating prior knowledge, wondering and planning.

Like many of my conversations with our CoT team, Lis' was excited about what this thinking routine revealed, the conversation it initiated, and the implications it could have throughout this unit of study.  During our conversation, Lis and I discussed the power of ownership, purpose, and context.  We both felt that this Thinking Routine will give students a sense of ownership, purpose, and context throughout this science unit.  I'll let Lis share more in the comments (hint, hint) and I hope the rest of you will, as well!

 Go to a lake and take some tests
Does it turn into a cloud? 
 Is there chemicals in water?
 How does water form?
 Look at a globe and look at the water around the world.
I want to explore how water got in the drain.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Scoop It and CoT Resources

I've recently been introduce to Scoop It.  Scoop It is an online content curation site that allows you to collect content on a particular topic and then creates a "magazine" with links to the articles, blogs, vidoes, etc. that you have saved to it.  One of my Scoop It topics is Cultures of Thinking.  So, feel free to check out the following link to my CoT Scoop It page.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our CoT Journey

Welcome to the WBSD Cultures of Thinking blog!  As we continue our journey with Cultures of Thinking, we hope this blog will be a place for us to share, discuss, and create momentum.  We believe that the principles and values of a Culture of Thinking will have a tremendous impact on teaching and learning at our school and in our district.  This blog will tell the story of our journey!

Each member of our CoT Leadership team is able to post on our blog.  If you have any questions, please ask another team member. 

For some added inspiration, here are several pictures from our summer CoT seminars:
Chalk Talk
I Used to Think...But Now I Think...
Family Chalk Talk
Dust Bowl Web
EDM Explanation Game