Students’ thinking changes as we teach . . . and sometimes we need to identify those shifts in thinking as it identifies a new insight, or a new perspective, on something and this is where innovation happens!
You may discern this adjustment in perspective by using a Visible Thinking Routine (VTR) like “I Used to Think . . . Now I Think . . . .” I am using this VTR as I work with my students on water pollution in the ocean. We are investigating this topic because the setting for our novel, Flush, by Carl Hiaasen, is Florida Keys and the external conflict for the protagonist is water pollution.
“So, what is water pollution in the ocean?,” my students ask. “Is it different from water pollution in Atlanta?,” they wonder. This VTR was used after the students were shown a video by NOAA, called “Trash Talk”. This video explained marine debris, and what causes this water pollution in the ocean. NOAA does a great job explaining this to Grade 6 students because they talk at their level, use many cool graphics and a lot of motion/sound to keep the students engaged.
This routine helped students reflect on their thinking about water pollution in the ocean and explored how/why that thinking had changed. As the teacher having an objective view of this exercise, this has helped me consolidate new learning and identify new understandings, opinions, and beliefs.
Once we discussed this issue, I had a direction for ongoing discussions about the story. This VTR has provided a springboard for discussions about the external conflict in the story, and it has built empathy for the protagonist.
Now the students realize that the issue of water pollution in the ocean is bigger than they thought, and their concern has been magnified. Now they understand the motives and responses of the people involved in the story.
And now my students are involved in the story . . .