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  • Writer's pictureRachel Terlop

Balancing WISSIT

My new school is already supporting me in incredible and generous ways! This week I have had the honor of attending WISSIT, a conference centered around Project Zero ideas. Project Zero is an idea, 50 years in the making, from Harvard that focuses on Thinking Routines and building a Culture of Thinking in the classroom.

This week we have been in interactive sessions, whole group grounding meetings, and learning affinity groups that have helped us dig into the ideas of HOW thinking can happen! Student's do not have to think in a linear fashion, and this conference has helped me see what "deep understanding" really looks like in practice. The highlight of my week was spending an entire day at the National Gallery of Art, spending hours at a time with ONE sculpture or ONE painting, and slowly looking - peeling back the layers of what makes each piece INCREDIBLE.

That peeling back of layers though. That made me think about the Koshas.. the layers of ourselves that make up who we are. Not just our physical body, but our energetic body...

To wrap up this experience, our learning group has to present our learned information in a creative way. We have had ZERO help or guidance - just show what you learned in a way besides the normal PowerPoint. Song? Sound good! Poem? Go for it! Hold up a water bottle and say its a metaphor? GREAT!

Sooooo, I went the route of combining what I have been working on this summer. Spending half my summer working as a facilitator of a 200-hr yoga program has been eye opening and allowed me to focus on my whole self - and not just the self I present to the world, or the self that contributes things.

My presentation is in a few minutes, and I am excited to share what I have compiled. I took all the "Thinking Routines" that I have been learning, and organized them around the chakra system. Each routine we learned has opened up different things for me, and I think my biggest takeaway is that all of this can be implemented BUT it has to be balanced.

Here is what has emerged for me..

Balancing Our WISSIT Energy

The chakra system comes from a text called the Vedas (a text coming from the Hindu and Buddhist cultures).

Chakras are the seven main energy centers in your body. You have thousands of pathways for energy that flow through you, but the seven main areas of convergence are called the chakras. In Sanskrit, the word chakra means ‘wheel,’ named for the energy moving through our body that spins and rotates. It is thought that balancing your chakras promotes a healthy and harmonious life.

Taking our Thinking Routines from WISSIT, I have arranged them into an interpretation of the seven chakras based on what each chakra represents in the body.

Root Chakra - Security and Belonging

String Connection Activity - In this activity, everyone started by forming a circle in our classroom. As we introduced ourselves, we listened for things that we have in common with one another. When we heard a commonality, we raised our hand to go next. The catch was that we were passed a ball of yarn. Each time there was something in common identified, we held the yarn, but passed the ball to the next person. By the end, we had a web of connections. This allowed us to physically see the connections we had with one another on our first day together.

Sacral Chakra Creativity

Aluminum Foil Sculptures to Respond to Reading - After reading or discussing, we were given a small sheet of aluminum foil. Our job was to make a representation of our thinking, or the topic, in under five minutes.

Solar Plexus Chakra Advocacy and Energy

Brainstorm a list of different perspectives and then use this script skeleton to explore each one:

I am thinking of ... the topic...

From the point of view of ... the viewpoint you've chosen

I think ... describe the topic from your viewpoint. Be an actor - take on the character of your viewpoint

A question I have from this viewpoint is ... ask a question from this viewpoint

Wrap up: What new ideas do you have about the topic that you didn't have before? What new questions do you have

Heart Chakra Opening and Sharing

Grabby Images - The leader of the session laid out four pictures before the session started that had to do with our topic. One image was a cartoon, one a digital image, one a quote, and one a painting. We moved into groups based on our chosen images, and discussed what drew us to the image. Then we moved into a whole group to discuss the merit of each.

Since personal experience shapes our gravitation towards certain images, this can be an intimate activity.

Throat ChakraExpression and Voice

My aim is to use this thinking routine into the classroom: provide different topics and have students physically take sides to debate.

3rd Eye CharkaInner voice and Perspective

Red Light/Yellow Light: Leaders provide media for discussion and read to identify when there is opinion, or sweeping generalization.

What Makes You Say That: Two question Thinking Routine that helps develop personal perspective, and elaborate

Crown ChakraBelonging in the world

I Used to Think... Now I Think - As learners, we are constantly growing and relating to our world in new ways. This way of framing thinking allows for expression of how we've built on old thoughts.

What I want is to ensure that when I take these Thinking Routines into my 3rd grade, and undergraduate classrooms, I remember to balance the energy. Some of these routines are light, and a perfect segway, or wrap up. Others place you in a vulnerable state, or have you be critical and brave. I want to ensure that I am using energizers to go deeply into subjects, connectors to help make the subject matter personal, and supporting scholars in their cultures of thinking.

Basically - Go to WISSIT.

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