Parts / Purposes / Complexities


Choose an artwork, object or topic and ask:

What are its parts?
(What are its pieces, components?)

What are its purposes?
(What is it for, what does it do?)

What are its complexities?
(How is it complicated in its parts, purposes, the relationship between the two, or other ways?)

WHAT KIND OF THINKING DOES THIS ROUTINE ENCOURAGE? This routine helps students build a multi-dimensional mental model of a topic by identifying different aspects of the topic and considering various ways in which the topic is complex.

WHEN AND WHERE CAN IT BE USED? Use it with many different things – with objects (sea shells, microscope, buildings), topics (fractions, grammar, electricity, democracy), and works of art. It’s important for an example of the topic to be readily accessible to students, either physically or mentally. If the object is physically visible, students don’t need a lot of background knowledge. If it is a conceptual topic, like democracy, it’s helpful for student to have background knowledge of a particular instance of it.