CSI: Colour, Symbol, Image Routine
An Instructional Technique How-To
The objective of the CSI: Colour, Symbol, Image Routine is to get students to express the essence of ideas in a non-verbal way. They will use colours, symbols and images to represent ideas posed in a reading or video.
· Text or video
· Markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
Students will use non-verbal methods to distill the main ideas of the text or video. They will have to capture the essence of the ideas in a single colour, symbol and image facilitating a deeper understanding of the reading or video.
Sharing their ideas with fellow partners and group members will give them different perspectives on how each student perceives the main ideas chosen. This also encourages a classroom community that shares ideas and respects other viewpoints.
This type of activity is accessible to most students since it doesn’t rely on verbal representation. For those students that are not adept at expressing themselves verbally, this gives them a chance to capture the essence of the content in a different way. They can use emotions and feelings to relate to the message or main idea. This can lead to greater enthusiasm and motivation. It also shows all students that there are different ways of expressing themselves.
Students can be assessed on the completeness of their explanation for the colour, symbol and image choices. They can also earn participation points by sharing and reflecting on the opinions of others.
This activity can also be used to capture the essence of a piece of music. Since the goal is to express ideas in a non-verbal way, the teacher could also present an instrumental piece of music to reflect on.
As a modification, the teacher could divide the class into three groups. Each group would be responsible for the colour, symbol or image. The group members would have to agree on the final choice. As a class, they can use their choices to create a poster.
Visible Thinking Harvard Project Zero. Retrieved March 6th, 2009, from Harvard Visible thinking website:
description of CSI: Colour,
Symbol, Image Routine was adapted from the Visible Thinking website by Bridget
Buehler and Sam Gerlach.