Making Thinking Visible: An Introducton

Visible Thinking

Harvard’s Project Zero: Part 3

Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based approach to integrating the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters. An extensive and adaptable collection of practices, Visible Thinking has a double goal: on the one hand, to cultivate students’ thinking skills and dispositions, and, on the other, to deepen content learning. By thinking dispositions, we mean curiosity, concern for truth and understanding, a creative mindset, not just being skilled but also alert to thinking and learning opportunities and eager to take them” (Source).

“Visible Thinking is a broad and flexible framework for enriching classroom learning in the content areas and fostering students’ intellectual development at the same time. Here are some of its key goals:

  • Deeper understanding of content
  • Greater motivation for learning
  • Development of learners’ thinking and learning abilities.
  • Development of learners’ attitudes toward thinking and learning and their alertness to opportunities for thinking and learning (the “dispositional” side of thinking).
  • A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners” (Source).

“The idea of visible thinking helps to make concrete what a thoughtful classroom might look like. At any moment, we can ask, “Is thinking visible here? Are students explaining things to one another? Are students offering creative ideas? Are they, and I as their teacher, using the language of thinking? Is there a brainstorm about alternative interpretations on the wall? Are students debating a plan?”

When the answers to questions like these are consistently yes, students are more likely to show interest and commitment as learning unfolds in the classroom. They find more meaning in the subject matters and more meaningful connections between school and everyday life. They begin to display the sorts of attitudes toward thinking and learning we would most like to see in young learners — not closed-minded but open-minded, not bored but curious, neither gullible nor sweepingly negative but appropriately skeptical, not satisfied with “just the facts” but wanting to understand” (Source).

A proven program for enhancing
students’ thinking and comprehension abilities

“At the core of Visible Thinking are practices that help make thinking visible: Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes and encourage active processing. They are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life” (Source).

About the Research

“Visible Thinking is the product of a number of years of research concerning children’s thinking and learning, along with a sustained research and development process in classrooms.

“One important finding was that skills and abilities are not enough. They are important of course, but alertness to situations that call for thinking and positive attitudes toward thinking and learning are tremendously important as well. Often, we found, children (and adults) think in shallow ways not for lack of ability to think more deeply but because they simply do not notice the opportunity or do not care. To put it all together, we say that really good thinking involves abilities, attitudes, and alertness, all three at once. Technically this is called a dispositional view of thinking. Visible Thinking is designed to foster all three.

“Another important result of this research concerns the practical functionality of the Visible Thinking approach — the thinking routines, the thinking ideals, and other elements. All these were developed in classroom contexts and have been revised and revised again to ensure workability, accessibility, rich thinking results from the activities, and teacher and student engagement” (Source).

Thinking Routines

Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich.

Technology Integration

Visit this overview of Making Thinking Visible with Technology by Clif Mims, then enjoy the many exemplary lesson plans and wonderful resources at MTVT.org (See screenshot below).

Making Thinking Visible with Technology (MTVT.org)

* Much of this content courtesy of Project Zero at Harvard University.

 

He Wanted to Win State for His Dying Father

…But What His Opponent Did After Losing Won the Day for Everyone

Giving Is the Best Communication

Warning: Watching this video may cause you to feel better about life.

Hat Tip: Lorrie Jackson

Inspirational Comedian: “You Can Turn Anything into a Positive”

Drew LynchI enjoy laughing. I love and appreciate good standup comedy. This story and video made me laugh out loud and inspired me, so I had to share it.

“Drew Lynch suffered nerve damage to his vocal chords after a softball accident, which left him struggling with his own speech. Lynch decided to take up comedy instead of feeling sorry for himself and managed to get everyone on their feet with his performance on America’s Got Talent” (Source).

Learn more about Drew Lynch on his website.

A New Paradigm for Education from Sir Ken Robinson

Ken RobinsonSir Ken Robinson suggests that education needs to be reformed and offers a new metaphor to help guide the change process. He taps into many of the things that educators have been noticing and “feeling” about schooling. As he often does, he clearly articulates these ideas and offers strategies for moving forward.

Take a listen to Sir Ken’s message (6 minutes) and share your reactions in the comments section.

Learning Happens by Doing

Making in the Classroom“Boss Level, a special time built into the school schedule at Quest to Learn, enables teachers to plan project-based learning units that can happen outside of the classroom. For students, Boss Level is an opportunity to participate in a design challenge while taking on the role of an artist, filmmaker, chef, or any number of other real-life jobs.

“And for teachers, Boss Level allows us to bring our own interests and passions to the job. I’ve been a mathematics educator in New York City’s Department of Education for ten years, and I joined the Quest to Learn staff three years ago because I was drawn to the game-based learning approach and the amount of autonomy and creativity that teachers were empowered to bring to their curricula.

“Watch students engage in hands-on projects to practice real-world skills, and learn five steps to design classroom challenges” (Source).

Tour of 3D Printing Lab

3D PrinterYesterday I had the opportunity to take one of my graduate classes on a tour of new 3D Printing Lab in the University of Memphis Library. We received training in computer-aided design (CAD) and use of the 3D printer, and had the opportunity to see it in action. Our conversation about integrating 3D printers with learning was packed with ideas and I left feeling energized. Additional educational uses have been popping into my mind since.

The following video and photos showcase some of the various projects that were printed. The Memphis skyline is my favorite and look even more impressive in-person.

The following album offers snapshots and captions of our tour.

Discussion

  1. What experiences have you had with 3D printing?
  2. Can you see potential ways to connect 3D printing with learning?

Loving Librarian and Media Specialist Surprised on TV #aaim14

Reading

Kirby Thomas is a librarian and media specialist at McAuliffe Elementary School in Broken Arrow, OK. She was named Teacher of the Year last year for the love and enthusiasm she gives to her children. Ellen DeGeneres has been spotlighting school libraries on her talk show Ellen, and recently surprised Kirby and the McAuliffe students and faculty with a bookmobile filled with books and iPad minis, a check for $25,000, and $75 gift cards for each of the 700 students at McAuliffe Elementary, a Title 1 school.

Enjoy watching this touching moment in the video below.

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Image Source: SheKnows.com