Teacher Toolkit

Thinking Routines and Discursive Strategies

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Who is this for?

Grade 3+

Why use it?

Express ideas clearly and support with evidence and reasoning

Understand others’ ideas accurately

Support and challenge the ideas of others

Take others’ reasoning seriously and allow it to influence their own thinking

Bloom’s Level


What is it?

This routine is a silent one, with students gathered in groups of four. A series of paper-swapping moves invites them to stake a claim, build on another’s claim, introduce a counterargument, consider a novel perspective, and evolve their original claim, all within 20 minutes, within the safety of a small group.

Materials – Template for each, essential/guiding question posted

Set-Up – Groups of four

How does it work?

Box 1: Students state their response and provide supporting evidence and reasoning.

Box 2: Students pass their papers to the right, read what their peer has written, and add a claim plus evidence to further develop their peer’s claim

Box 3: Students pass their papers to the right again, and stake a counter-argument from another point of view.

Box 4: Students pass their papers to the right again, and stake a claim distinct from the reasoning which appears on the page thus far.

Finally, students pass papers to the right, back into the hands of the original thinker.


  • Give students time to read what peers have written. In the final box at the bottom of the template, invite students to stake a new claim, one which evolves, however slightly or dramatically, from their original claim.

Discursive Close:

Have pairs share: “At first I thought … Now I think …“


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