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CSI Visible Thinking Routine in Health

In 6th Grade Health, Ms Arcenas‘ students were asked to use the CSI (Color, Symbol, Image) Visible Thinking Routine to show their learning regarding the enduring understanding for the subject which is:

“Health is a complex system with many moving parts and every choice we make impacts our physical, mental and emotional well-being”

Why Visible Thinking Routines

In their book “Making Thinking Visible“, Richhart, Church and Morrison, explain how thinking routines help structure student reasoning and reflection. They argue that understanding is not a type of thinking but an outcome of thinking. Therefore, thinking routines would allow such expression and understanding.

The CSI – Color/Symbol/Image routine is described in the book as useful to capture the essence of ideas through metaphors, forcing visual connections between what is knew and what is known.

 CSI Assessment Proposal on Teacher’s Blog

This CSI assessment was proposed in Ms Arcenas Physical Education Blog with detailed instructions, so students could follow and respond on their personal ePortfolio blogs.


The proposal was the following:

Unpacking our Enduring Understanding for Health

Consider the following questions: What does being healthy mean to you? How can you motivate others to make healthy choices in their lives?

  1. Choose a COLOR that you feel best represents our enduring understanding

  2. Choose a SYMBOL that you feel best represents our enduring understanding – a symbol is something simple, for example one object that represents an idea

  3. Choose an IMAGE that you feel best represents our enduring understanding – an image is more complex, like a picture involving great detail

  4. For each color, symbol and image write a brief explanation describing its connection to our enduring understanding – What makes you say that?

Assessment Rubric

A rubric for the CSI blog post was also shared with the students in Ms Arcenas’ blog. The rubric covered not only connections to the enduring understanding but also requirements regarding the use of  Creative Commons image and citation.

Blog Post Grading Rubric


Use of Creative Commons and Image Citation

When teachers and students consider any type of public work, it is crucial to take Copyright issues into account, as part of student digital citizenship. Creative Commons is a great source of images that can be shared with attribution (as long as they are given credit).


Student ePortfolio Blog

This is an example of a student ePortfolio blog, where she has posted the CSI assessments. Therefore, ePortfolios can be used to collect assessments that may be chosen by the students as a reference for Student Led Conference, for example. ePortfolio posts can also be useful as a basis for individual and group discussions on learning and growth. Labels indicating grade level and subject area should always be used. If the student chooses an ePortfolio blog post for Student Led Conference, then an “SLC” label is applied as well.


Pre-Assessment Sample

The CSI activity was used both for pre and summative assessment, so the teacher could see change. The example below is taken from Emi’s blog, where you can see the actual blog post. The chart below is just a simplified version of her CSI activity to facilitate comparison.

You can see that as Emi start the unit. she is aware that even though she knows a few facts about health, like having variety on her plate, she has many questions and appreciates her power to make healthy choices.


Summative Assessment Sample

In her summative CSI, Emi recognises that health involves a lot more than eating and exercises, which represented her initial basic understanding. She now realizes the impact of emotions in healthy living.  Emi also includes other elements like the heart and the brain as important organs to be considered, instead of focusing only in the physical appearance.

Emis CSI assessments showed how her perceptions changed and what are the new elements in this revised understanding. The images were then important metaphors to help Emi think through and verbalise her new ideas.



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