Margin Notes

Compass Points Activity


Often when we ask students to make decisions and plans, we first ask them to brainstorm or create lists, such as a pros/cons. Recently, we have been using an activity we borrowed from Project Zero during PL sessions with teachers that we think would work really well with students – Compass Points. The Compass Points activity asks a learner, or group of learners to identify what excites them about a proposal, what worries them, what more they need to know, and finally to name their current stance or suggestions.

The Compass Points activity requires learners to see an idea through multiple lenses and as such it, “works well when the topic, idea, or proposition is one for which there are dilemmas or dissenting points of view.” (Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison)  Some classroom examples could be a school’s decision to eliminate a dress code, at the beginning of a research project, or at the beginning of a unit of study. This activity can be returned to after learning has occurred, to make visible the changes that occur over a period of study, whether that is an hour or a month.


As always, we need to model anything we ask students to do. Here is a picture of our Compass Points in a recent PL.

Try it out with your class and let us know how it went!

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