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Making Thinking Visible – Headlines Routine

Project Zero, an educational research group at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, has been working to enhance student learning, thinking and creativity since the 1960s. Founded by the philosopher Nelson Goodman, it’s impacted global education and been guided by such education luminaries as Howard Gardner and David Perkins.

Utilizing its core concepts and adding a dash of Socrative will bolster student reflection, critical thinking, and creativity while developing independent learners for the 21st century. Let’s dig in!

What are Visible Thinking Routines?

At the core of Visible Thinking are practices that help make thinking visible: Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes and encourage active processing. They are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life. (

Visible Thinking Routine 1 – HEADLINES

This routine draws on the idea of newspaper-type headlines as a vehicle for summing up and capturing the essence of an event, idea, concept, topic, etc.

Activity Flow with Socrative

  • Identify a subject matter topic in which students will gather a fair amount of new information or opinions about it.
  • Communicate to students before the activity that they will be asked to write a newspaper headline capturing and summing up the essence of the materials.
  • Work through the lesson and then activate the Socrative Short Response feature.
  • Ask students this core question: “If you were to write a headline for this topic or issue right now that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would that headline be?”
  • Students should individually reflect on the task and then discuss in pairs or small groups.
  • Have each group co-construct a headline and enter it into Socrative.
  • Make the headlines visible for the whole class and have students read aloud their contribution.
  • Initiate Socrative’s ‘Short Response’ voting option.
  • Task pairs to review all of the headlines and vote on which one best captures the essence of the material. Have them be prepared to discuss why.
  • Hold a full class discussion in which students reflect on their summarization process and support their choices.


  • Revisit the headlines in future classes and discuss potential changes as more information is uncovered.
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