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  • Writer's pictureSimon Brooks

New Thinking Routine: What happens next?

What type of thinking do you make routine in your classroom?

Teachers interested in building a culture of thinking ensure that they create multiple opportunities for students to engage a variety of high-leverage thinking moves in service of developing understanding and engagement.

One of these thinking moves is PREDICTION.

Some years ago, I decided to create a prediction-centred thinking routine to use in my own classroom as an English teacher. The routine is called ‘What happens next?’, and you can find out more by clicking here.

There are two phases to this thinking routine:

  1. What happens next? What makes you think that?

  2. What actually happened? Compare and reflect.

This routine works best when students really have no idea what will happen next in relation to whatever they are learning.

In English, students might be reading a narrative, and reach a significant point in the story, a moment of intense interest and suspense. At this point, the teacher stops them in their tracks for phase 1. No more reading, however much they complain. “What do you think will happen next?” the teacher asks, “and what makes you think that?” The students share their thinking, justifying at length WHY they think what they think. The teacher holds them in the moment of ‘not knowing’, encouraging them to relish the experience of wonder and curiosity.

Finally, when the desire to learn is at its most intense, the teacher moves on and the reading continues. Will ‘what happens next’ match up with the students’ conjecturing? Wide eyed, the children read on, until . . . “Oh, I can’t believe that’s what happened!”, or “Yes! – that’s exactly what I said!”

Once ‘the big reveal’ is shared, phase 2 begins. Children are encouraged to compare their hypotheses with actuality. “What actually happened?” the teacher might say. “How does this compare with your prediction, and what have you learned?”

‘What happens next?’ has wide application as a thinking routine. In History, students may have studied the full contextual background to a moment in history when an individual or government made a key decision, without revealing the decision itself. The routine is then applied, and all the possible decisions discussed and explored, before ‘the big reveal’ is shared. In Science, the routine supports the hypothesising process, encouraging students to justify their hypothesis prior to testing it.

When teachers use ‘What makes you say that?’ to put PREDICTION front and central in their classrooms, they take another step towards building a culture of thinking, promoting engagement, understanding and independence for all learners.

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