Cross posted on KIS staff blog, The Lead Learner

There is a lot happening when we think. Thinking takes a lot of different forms. The way we define the thinking our students do has a huge impact on the type of thinking they partake in. If the organization of the lesson is unclear, we can expect the thinking to be unclear.

We need to make thinking “INTENTIONAL”, for ourselves as teachers, and for the learners.

“Being intentional helps us be better teachers – but it is also a valuable disposition as a learner. If I enter a learning experience in a mindful, intentional state – I get so much more out of it. I might remind myself to ‘listen actively’ to what my colleagues are saying or ‘stay open minded’ when I think I am about to be challenged. This ‘moment of mindfulness’ is something we can help our students learn to do. It’s not about completing a task or even about the content of the task….it’s about our intention, as learners, to get the most out of that moment. To notice.”

(Kath Murdoch, And the word is?...)

To aid teachers in making thinking INTENTIONAL, our staff room has a new addition. 100 verbs for thinking.

Teachers were challenged with a simple task for the week:

1) Take a lesson you are planning. Identify the main THINKING verb you are asking students to DO (which one do you want to INTENTIONALLY focus on).

2) Go into the staff room and find the verb. Take it down and bring it with you.

3) When teaching, make the verb INTENTIONAL. Make the card public and shared. Have students reflect on it, what it means, how they do it, etc. Do it BEFORE the lesson, and reflect on it again AFTER.

4) When finished, put the verb back on the wall in the staff room.

5) Try again.

What we have noticed so far:

Early Learning students had a very interesting conversation about what it means to COPY. They concluded that we have to do exactly what we see, and make it the same. They used this knowledge to copy a work of paper art, focusing on the skills needed (cut, rip, fold, curl, etc) for their unit on MODIFICATIONS.

Primary ½ discussed the difference between ESTIMATE and GUESS. They discovered that often when they thought they were ESTIMATING, they were actually GUESSING, and they needed to use what they know a bit more. They used this skill in their estimation math centers.

Middle school discussed what it means to REASON. They were aware of reason as a noun, but making it a verb is a different way of thinking. They used this skill to create their own version of the ten commandments for their world beliefs unit.

This is just the beginning, but we hope by continuing this INTENTIONAL focus on thinking skills, our students will become better at NOTICING, NAMING, and REFLECTING ON their own thinking.


  1. How fabulous, thanks so much for sharing this Craig! I have been giving it thought since I read it a couple of weeks back. It sounds like an effective process for teachers and students alike - I expect that teachers will have taken plenty away from this beyond the week-long challenge. I can see the value in students (and teachers) being able to notice and name thinking more specifically as part of their reflections. Sometimes I think that we just don't notice the thinking involved and take it for granted, especially in the Early Years and I am always looking for ways to improve on this with my Prep class. I love the example of students exploring what it is to "copy" as it really values the thinking that they were doing in a situation where some might not see it for what it is.


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