SOS: Think Puzzle Explore (TPE)

Our S.O.S series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum.

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SOS Big IdeaThe Think-Puzzle-Explore routine, developed as part of the Visual Thinking project from Harvard’s Project Zero, is used much like Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) organizer. A teacher might decide to use TPE routine in order to encourage less fact driven and more inquiry or process oriented responses from students. When they connect to background knowledge, student curiosity is encouraged and they develop a plan for their investigation. Whether it is a brief or extended investigation, this routine can be using as a reference point to document, assess, revisit and keep track of student learning.

SOS StepsMaterials: video segment, related books and other print materials, paper and writing utensils

1.Ask students to fold a piece of paper into three equal columns and label them as T (or Think)-P (or Puzzle)-E (or Explore).

2.Ask students to use the first column to jot ideas about what they know about the topic. Give students a few minutes to jot a few things down and then time to turn and talk with a partner. Often, peer to peer conversations will spur an idea or thought that could be added individual Think (T) column.

3.Next, ask students to use the second column students record questions they have or what or puzzles them about the topic. Give students time to turn and talk with a partner to spur on thinking.

4.Have students use the third column to jot down their plan for how they will explore this topic. If they’re stuck, prompt with question such as: Where could you go to get more information? Whom might you ask? What sources could you use? How can you find ways to answer your own puzzles?

5.Show the video segment.

6.Ask students to revisit their TPE chart to see if any of their questions were answered. Have them add that information to their research notes.

7.Continue with other related materials until investigation is complete.

8.Finish up by inviting students to share their thinking, which could be a conversation, project or presentation.

SOS Sum It UpThe TPE routine works well with inquiry-type activities where students not only learn to keep track of their content notes, but also of their learning process as well. It is great to use with units of study and encourages students to own both their thinking and their process. This routine can guide students into in-depth investigations with students being able to share out in a variety of ways.

SOS More Ideas1. Based on the needs of your students, this process could be carried out in whole group, small group, or with individual students.

2.The Explore portion of this process should be modeled for students often. Use questions to guide the exploration. For example:

  • What keywords should be used if searching online?
  • How do I know if a source is credible?
  • Who else can I ask?

3. Outcomes of student learning could be shared and published in a variety of ways. Some possibilities include: Discovery Board Builders, posters, essays, blog post, website or podcasts.

This strategy was recommended by Francie Snyder, Educator of the Gifted, Manatee County, Florida.


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