Visible Thinking Routine in Action: Chalk Talk

We are fortunate to have a Visible Thinking Routine (VTR) expert at our school. Claire Arcenas, our MS/HS Physical Education teacher, previously a third grade classroom teacher who has done extensive readings and research in experiencing, implementing, embedding VTR in teaching and learning.  Recently, she started sharing her experience and reflection on her professional learning blog: Visible Thinking Across Subject Areas.




Claire invited me to an 8th grade PE class before a unit on Volleyball skills and allowed me to film her facilitating the VTR called Chalk Talk. She explains the overview of her volleyball unit on her classroom blog post Setting Goals for Player’s Success

Grade 7 and 8: Exploring our Enduring Understanding and Essential Questions for Volleyball…

Enduring Understanding:
  • Volleyball requires the application and coordination of skills necessary to contribute collaboratively in achieving a common goal
Essential Questions:
  • What is volleyball?
  • What movement skills are needed to play volleyball successfully?
  • What are players’ responsibilities?
  • How is organization needed in playing volleyball?
  • How can the skills and attitudes learned in volleyball be used in other sports and activities?

In the movie clip, you will see Claire giving an introduction to the Visible Thinking Routine, get kids in groups to rotate around posters with an Essential Question on each. Silently, students added their thoughts, drew visuals or documented questions that they had. After all students had the opportunity to add to each poster, Claire collected all the posters and saved them for the second part of the thinking routine after the actual volleyball playing experience in the gym.


At the end of the unit, students met in the same groups to come full circle with the chalk talk routine. Claire distributed the posters, gave students time to re-read their original ideas and thoughts. They then turned the poster over to add new understanding, any connections or new questions.

The final part of the process and to conclude the learning process is for students to reflect on the classroom blog using the VTR: I used to think… but now I think…