Thinking Routines

Thinking Routines – click here for the document to print.

Thinking Routines

Based on the Strategies found in Making Thinking Visible


The 4 C’s

1.  Connections: what connections can you draw between this text and your previous learnings?

2.  Challenge: what ideas, assumptions and/or positions do you want to argue within the text (think as if the author was sitting next to you).

3.  Concepts:  what key concepts/ideas do you think are important or worth “holding onto”?

4.  Changes:  what changes in attitude, thinking or action are suggested by the text?

When to use? 

  • Reading a text assignment
  • Annotating,
  • Preparing for Socratic seminars/discussion groups

Think – Puzzle – Explore

1.  What do you think you know about this topic/document/image?

2.  What questions do you have about this topic/document/image?

3.  How might you explore the questions you have around this topic/document/image?

When to use?

  • Document analysis
  • Before you start a reading assignment for a new lesson/unit

See – Think – Wonder

1.  What do you see?

2.  What do you think is going on?

3.  What does it make you wonder?

When to use?

  • Image analysis – photographs, artwork, political cartoon
  • Video analysis


The Explanation Game

1.  Name it – name a feature or aspect of the object/document you notice.

2.  Explain it – what could it be? What role or function might it serve? Why might it be included or placed in its location?

3. Give reasons – what makes you say that (i.e., evidence for your responses to questions # 1 and 2)

4.  Generate alternatives – what else could this object/document be? What evidence do you have for this possible alternative explanation?

When to use?

  • Document/image analysis

Sticky Note Talk

1.  What ideas come to mind when you consider this idea, question or problem? Write these on a Sticky Note – add to group worksheet.  Read the other responses.

2.  After reading/hearing other ideas, what connections can you make to others’ responses? Use a different color Sticky Note to add these connections to the group worksheet.

3.  What questions arise as you think about the ideas and consider the responses and comments of others?

When to use?

  • Brainstorming
  • Small group discussions
  • Reflections on learning experiences


Connect – Extend – Challenge

1.  How are the ideas and information presented connected to what you already knew?

2. What new ideas did you get that extended or broadened your thinking in new directions?

3.  What challenges or questions have come up in your mind from the ideas and information presented?

When to use?

  • At end of lesson to review
  • After reading an assigned text
  • Assignment or project reflection