Archive for CoT

Curating a classroom for a culture of thinking.

Over the last six months I have been reading Ron Ritchart’s ‘Creating a Culture of Thinking.’ This book has transformed my approach to both leading and teaching in a classroom. One aspect I have been experimenting with is leaving out equipment to generate students thinking and questions.

This is my first attempt,  with the thought of creating a hands on ‘museum’ display that could be left set up for any student in any class to use and explore.


Which beach has the best sand?

Four microscopes were left set up each with a sample of one of four different local beach sands in labeled and sealed petri-dishes. A pile of post-it notes and pens where made available under the heading ‘Which beach has the best sand?’


Viewing the different beach sand.

I have seen a variety of students across the high school and primary school take time out of their normal learning to investigate and  converse about the different sand. Not all the questions, thoughts or statements generated have been captured by the post-it notes, but what has been is encouraging.
Often to get students to record their thinking has required my intervention. When I have heard a good question or observation I have stated ‘how valuable a students thought was,’ this has then enabled students to value their idea enough to record it.


Post-it note observations, ideas and questions.

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Assessing the things that matter

What we value in our classrooms should be represented in the things we assess and report on.

1463585811_icon-93Currently, my department has been trying to replace the focus on content that has dominated our teaching and learning and replace it with assessments that assess the things we believe are of most benefit for students and their future learning.
Top of our list to better evaluate are the skills of working scientifically, with a particular focus on students demonstrating their thinking as they problem solve. The ultimate aim is to craft classroom cultures of learning and thinking where individual students take ownership of their learning and go about it collaboratively with peers.

Ron Richard’s Creating cultures of thinking has been and continues to be very influential in our shaping of these cultures.

Our process.

In producing tasks and assessment criteria we have relied on the NSW syllabus documents and the Australian Curriculum as a starting point for the skills and problem-solving outcomes we focus on. To help define thinking  we used the SOLO Taxonomy to provide the language to explain the different thinking levels and often the level of application of each skill we assess.

Although the implementation is in an early stage, I have found my writing of comments in reports has shifted as a result. I’m now writing comments encouraging students to push their thinking and to work on demonstrating their thinking in all aspects of their work.

This is an ongoing process and any thoughts or feedback are actively sort. If students find deep thinking hard then so do their teachers. And a belief in social, collaborative learning drives us to hear and see what others are doing. It is with this in mind that I have set up the following Google folder to share what we have done to date. Please have a look and let us know your thoughts.

Sample assessments shared folder



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