Thinking Routines

Routines for Introducing & Exploring Ideas

Key Thinking Moves: Describing, interpreting & wondering.

Good with ambiguous or complex visual stimuli.


Key Thinking Moves: Activating prior knowledge, questioning, distilling, & connection making through metaphors.

Works well when students have prior knowledge but instruction will move it in a new direction; can be done over extended time during course of unit.


Key Thinking Moves: Decision making and planning, uncovering personal reactions.

Solicits the group's ideas & reactions to a proposal, plan, or possible decision.


Key Thinking Moves: Activating prior knowledge, wondering, planning.

Good at the beginning of a unit to direct personal or group inquiry & uncover current understanding as well as misconceptions.

Key Thinking Moves: Describing, inferring & interpreting.

Variation on STW using only portions of an image.


Key Thinking Moves: Observing details & building explanations.

Variations of STW that focuses on identifying parts & explainging them in order to build up an understanding of the whole from its parts and purposes.


Key Thinking Moves: Uncovering prior knowledge & ideas, questioning.

Open-ended discussion on paper; ensures all voices are heard, gives thinking time.


Key Thinking Moves: Creating thought-provoking questions.

Key Thinking Moves: Active reasoning and explanation.


Key Thinking Moves: Creating thought-provoking questions.

Key Thinking Moves: Separating fact and feeling.


Key Thinking Moves: Noticing truth occasions.

Key Thinking Moves: Looking at parts, purposes and audiences.

Key Thinking Moves: Generating and transforming questions.




Routines for Synthesising and Organising Ideas

Key Thinking Moves: Summarising, capturing the heart.

Quick summaries of the big ideas or what stands out.


Key Thinking Moves: Capturing the heart through metaphors

Nonverbal routine that forces visual connections.


Key Thinking Moves: Uncovering & organising prior knowledge to identify connections.

Highlights the thinking steps of making an effective map that both organised & reveals one's thinking.


Key Thinking Moves: Connection making, idenitfying new ideas, raising questions.

Key synthesis moves for dealing with new information in whatever form it might be presented.

Key Thinking Moves: Connection making, identifying key concept, raising questions, & considering implications.

A text-based routine that helps identify key point of complex text for discussion; demands a right text or book.


Key Thinking Moves: Focusing attention, analysing, & reflecting.

Can be combined with other routines & used to prompt relfection & discussion.

Key Thinking Moves: Reflection & meta-cognition.

Used to help learners reflect on how their thinking has shifted and changed over time.

Key Thinking Moves: Tracking & Guiding Understanding.

Used to develop learners' understanding of a complex topic over days or weeks.

Key Thinking Moves: Identifying powerful questions to guide inquiry & deepen understanding.

Key Thinking Moves: Structuring for analysis of creative works.

Key Thinking Moves: Finding actions

Key Thinking Moves: Clarifying claims and seeking sources.

Key Thinking Moves: Creative decision making.


Routines for Digging Deeper into Ideas

Key Thinking Moves: Summarising, capturing the heart.

A question that teachers can weave into discussion to push students to give evidence for their assertions.


Key Thinking Moves: Perspective taking.

Identification of perspectives around an issue or problem.


Key Thinking Moves: Perspective taking.

Stepping into a position & talking or writing from that perspective to gain a deeper understanding of it.


Key Thinking Moves: Monitoring, identifying of bias, raising questions.

Used to identify possible errors in reasoning, over-reaching by authors, or areas that need to be questioned.

Key Thinking Moves: Identifying generalisations & theories, reasoning with evidence, making counterarguments.

Can be used with text or as a basic structure for mathematical & scientific thinking.


Key Thinking Moves: Perspective taking, reasoning, identifying complexities.

Identifying & building both side of an argument or tension/dilemma.


Key Thinking Moves: Summarizing & distilling.

Text-based protocol aimed at eliciting what a reader found important or worthwhile; used with discussion to look at themes & implications.

Key Thinking Moves: Considering viewpoints on truth.

Key Thinking Moves: Thinking creatively about options.

Key Thinking Moves: Exploring the tensions of decision making.