If you are using any of my Depth and Complexity resources, you are going to love the FREE posters I have designed for your classroom. These visual aids are effective mnemonic devices that will help your students understand and apply the 11 “thinking tools” of Depth and Complexity. Enter your email address below, and I will immediately send these posters to you.
After much thought and consideration, I introduce to you my icons for Depth and Complexity!
For Details and Big Ideas, I used a leaf and tree, respectively. These images are more analogous to the relationship between Details and Big Ideas. A tree represents the “big picture” or general idea, consisting of many details (leaves).
One of the first images that come to mind when I think of Patterns is pattern blocks. Hence, the use of hexagons for this icon. However, since Depth and Complexity is for students in K-12, the hexagons also remind me of molecular structures, which might be a reasonable frame of reference if you are working with older students.
Across disciplines is represented by three overlapping circles. As we know, multidisciplinary connections do not occur in a linear fashion. Topics within different subjects overlap in various degrees.
When we ask our students to examine and evaluate Trends, we want them to think about how various topics gain and lose popularity (or notoriety). The double line graph serves as an effective reminder that trends do not occur in isolation and always have contributing or coinciding factors.
I can’t think of a better representation of Ethics than a scale. Asking students to examine what is “right” or “wrong” in ambiguous situations, truly requires them to “weigh” both sides of an issue.
Relate Over Time is the category that explores how things change (or stay the same over time). The arrows represent change and the clock represents time (ok, pretty obvious, right?).
Unanswered Questions allow us to ponder unclear, ambiguous, or inconclusive information. Students should also be aware of Unanswered Questions when a claim is made without sufficient support and/or evidence.
The Multiple Perspectives category requires students explore ideas, thoughts, and feelings of those that they may not identify with. Perspectives can range dramatically, which is why I used a telescope with a magnifying glass in this icon.
The basis of language is communication. Communication, by definition, requires interaction between two or more people. Language of the Discipline is not the mere proper use of terms and/or words within a subject. It is the mastery of language with the end goal of communicating effectively. The two speech bubbles represent the interactive nature of language.
Rules explain “if-then” situations. IF X occurs, THEN Y will happen. Flowcharts are representations “if-then” processes. Flowcharts provide people with an idea of expected outcomes or a process sequence. Rules also follow a hierarchy, which the icon design also represents.
I hope you find these posters useful in your classroom! I have provided them in color and black-and-white. Please check out my other Depth and Complexity resources!
This resource was created based on the Depth and Complexity
framework, which was developed by Dr. Sandra Kaplan under the auspices of the
U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement:
“Differentiating the Core Curriculum and Instruction to Provide Advanced
Learning Opportunities” (1994); “Curriculum Project T.W.O.” (1992); “Think Like
a Disciplinarian” (1997).