The most common mistake I see in implementing the Depth and Complexity thinking tools (and one I made myself) is to rely on a graphic organizer like this:
Here are the problems:
1. Too many prompts!
Students should use prompts that best connect to the content, not a generic “use as many as we can” worksheet. If you’re cooking, you don’t always use all of your spices, right?
In this case, there are so many prompts of depth, that students will rush through to complete it all, leading to, ironically, shallow thinking.
2. No directions!
In this worksheet, there’s just a prompt sitting there by itself. What are students supposed to do with the prompts? If you don’t make this clear, they’re just going to list three rules, three details, three patterns – and that’s not very deep thinking.
3. It’s just a checklist.
Rather than settling in for deep thinking, students will be thinking: ok, six more to go before I’m done with this worksheet.
How To Do It better
- Pick the perfect prompts for the task. Sometimes it might be two or three, but never nine or ten! If I’m studying Rosa Parks, I’m picking ethics, rules, and multiple perspectives. Sure, I could use all the prompts, but these three set the stage for a specific task. You might pick three different prompts to focus on.
- Always pair Depth and Complexity prompts with a thinking skill. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to help you rise above the “find three examples” level of thinking.
- Think about your learning goal. Is it for students to fill in a worksheet? If not, consider how to set the stage for slow, deep learning.