How About a Tug of War? Making Thinking Visible

Have you ever heard of using the "Tug of War" strategy with your students?

I got this great idea from the book, "Making Thinking Visible"

This is an AMAZING teaching resource! If you are looking for ways to promote engagement and critical thinking in your class (who isn't?!) this is definitely a must read!

So, the Tug of War strategy goes like this:

  1. Present a fairness dilemma.
  2. Identify the factors that "pull" at each side of the dilemma. These are the two sides of the tug of war.
  3. Ask students to think of "tugs", or reasons why they support a certain side of the dilemma. Ask them to try to think of reasons on the other side of the dilemma as well.
  4. Generate "what if?" questions to explore the topic further.

My first and second graders have been learning about animals.  So today we did a tug of war for how people impact the lives and homes of animals.

In the middle I wrote: "People have a positive impact on animals and their habitats. Then I gave students sticky notes and had them write down their ideas to support this or refute it. 

Check out how many ideas they had! I was amazed! And the conversations we had while they were writing out their sticky notes were phenomenal.

This is a great strategy for increasing engagement in your students and for using higher order thinking skills! Whether you teach Kindergarten or grade twelve I believe all students will find success with this activity. Give it a try.

What are your favorite activities that promote higher order thinking skills?

Another activity you might like is creating a digital wonderwall. You can read about that here.