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Step Inside is one of a collection of research-based routines developed as part of the Visual Thinking project from Harvard’s Project Zero. It is promoted in Ron Ritchhart’s book Making Thinking Visible, as a strategy that will help develop students’ thinking and deepen their understanding of the topics they study. This strategy requires students to examine an event or situation from a specific point of view by answering a series of questions.
1.Explain to students that they will watch a segment about the unit of study. As they watch, they will need to view the situation through the perspective of a person or thing that was featured.
- Assign various roles through random assignment or by providing students a list of perspectives and allowing them to choose.
- Perspectives are not required to be people. For example, imagine what the campfire would hear and see.
2.Display the following questions on the board to provide context for students to keep in mind while viewing the segment:
- What can this person or thing see, observe, or notice?
- What might the person or thing know, understand, or believe?
- What might the person or thing care deeply about?
- What might the person or thing wonder about or question?
3.Play the video segment. Do not have students take notes during the clip. You may wish to pause every 60 seconds and allow them to jot down notes.
4.After the segment has been viewed, provide students 5 minutes to think about and write down answers to 2 or 3 of the questions outlined above.
5.Facilitate a group discussion about the questions. Note: You may wish to add a small group discussion and match students with similar and/or different perspectives to determine similarities and differences.
The Step Inside routine provides students with an opportunity to see things from a different point of view. It can also help make abstract concepts more tangible. Consider the personalities and group dynamics of the students you are working with when you choose a format for a debrief, in order to ensure that students have the opportunity to fully process what they have experienced.
Teacher Note: Because this strategy requires students to see things from a different perspective, you may need to provide additional scaffolding. For example, if you were going to show a video segment from USC Shoah Foundation about testimonies from Auschwitz survivors, ask students to list the different perspectives they might encounter while watching the video, such as someone who spent time in Auschwitz, someone who lost a family member there, or someone who was a Nazi soldier at the camp.
- Scaffold students who are just learning the Step Inside routine by having the whole group observe an image or video and then discuss all the different perspectives that it could be seen from.
- As part of the final discussion, have students take on a specific perspective and speak from that point of view. The rest of the class can try to guess the speaker’s perspective.
- Extend the conversation by having students post the answers to their questions in an online format such as Edmodo or a Google doc and participate in an online discussion with students from another location.
This strategy is courtesy of Francie Snyder, STAR Educator of the Gifted at Oneco and Prine Elementary Schools, Manatee County, Florida