My school has a new head of secondary this year. One of the changes he’s brought into our faculty meetings is to highlight good teaching practices, and encouraging others to try out new things in their own classrooms. I really love this part of faculty meetings. It’s so great to hear what my fellow teachers are doing.

A colleague shared some strategies from Visible Thinking, and we were challenged to look through the Visible Thinking website and find one to try. I noticed that Think-Pair-Share was on there, and I decided to share one thing I’ve been introducing this year.

Last spring I learned about WODB. What is that, you ask? It stands for “Which one doesn’t belong?” The basic premise is that you have 4 images, each of which could be the answer for which one doesn’t belong. Some great math teachers have put a lot together on a website, and Stenhouse has just come out with a book and teacher’s guide, written by Christopher Danielson. It’s important that there not be a right answer, in order to encourage conversations. I have tried to use these in my class a discussion starter, because one of our goals as a math department this year is to improve the students’ ability to communicate about mathematics. When I do use this, I will tell the students to look at the image and think about it for 1 minute. Then I give them 1 minute to discuss with their partner or table, and then we have a class discussion. This is the Think-Pair-Share aspect. I do like hearing their answers, and it can promote good discussion when they can’t figure out why one of them might not belong.

I was able to share this in a staff meeting, and tried to find images online that could be used in other subjects. While this is a very easy concept to do in math, it’s not so easy to do in other subjects. It greatly excited me when a colleague messaged me later asking about the concept I had shared, wanting to incorporate it into a science class. I shared it with pictures of an onion, asparagus, green bell pepper, and green apple, and timed them for Think-Pair-Share. I walked around a bit when the teachers were pairing, and heard a lot of fun conversations. Unfortunately due to time constraints I didn’t model the whole class sharing, but they got the general idea.

I always get nervous when I’m sharing ideas like this in front of a whole faculty. I’m much more comfortable being in front of my students than my peers, but I want to get better at it, so I’m going to keep volunteering and trying to grow in that area.

(For more info about Think-Pair-Share, Jennifer Gonzalez did a great podcast/blog about it that reminded me of all the great ways you can use it in a classroom.)