Think Puzzle Explore
A routine that sets the stage for deeper inquiry

  1. What do you think you know about this topic?

  2. What questions or puzzles do you have?

  3. How can you explore this topic?

Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
To help students connect to prior knowledge, to stimulate curiosity and to lay the groundwork for independent inquiry.

Application: When and Where can it be used?
Use Think/Puzzle/Explore when you are beginning a topic and when you want students to develop their own questions of investigation.

Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?
Begin by giving students a few quiet moments to consider the topic at hand. Then, work as a whole class or in small groups and brainstorm ideas in the three areas. Make sure to give adequate time between each question for students to think about and articulate their ideas.

When beginning to use this routine it is sometimes best to do the Think and Puzzle questions together first. In some cases, you may want to have students do this part of the routine individually on paper or in their heads before sharing ideas in a group. Return to the Explore question after sharing ideas and puzzles. It may be helpful to a think about what makes an interesting question, or puzzle, and then discuss strategies for exploring selected questions.

Note that it is common for students to have misconceptions about a topic at this point—include them on the list so all ideas are available for consideration after further study. Students may at first list seemingly simplistic ideas and questions. Include these on the whole class list but push students to think about things that are truly puzzling or interesting to them. 

Keep a visible record of students’ ideas. If you are working in a group, ask students to share some of their thoughts and collect a broad list of ideas about the artwork or topic on chart paper. Or students can write their individual responses on post-it notes and later add them to a class list of ideas.