“For centuries teaching has been about talking, and students have been expected to listen. He asked, what if we flip this? If teaching becomes listening and learning becomes talking? How can we be sure that the thinking routines that we are using in the classroom are purposeful?” — Maggie Hos-McGrane
“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).
Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich.
I’m looking forward to speaking at today’s Project Zero Memphis Winter Workshop. Here are some of the resources that I’ll be sharing.
Visible Thinking includes methods for making students’ thinking visible through learning routines that are thinking rich. These routines encourage the development of a culture of thinking and can be used across all grade levels and content areas. With freely available technologies students can engage in Thinking Routines to provide evidence of their thinking and demonstrate their understanding of course content in multiple ways (images, audio, video, presentations, artwork, and more). The Making Thinking Visible with Technology (MTVT) project seeks to provide professional development, a database of lesson plans, and resources to help teachers to develop opportunities for students to make their thinking visible with technology.
If you have been in one of my graduate classes, conference keynotes or presentations, or professional developmentworkshops or institutes in the past three years then you have likely heard me promote the Teaching for Understanding (TFU) framework and the idea of making thinking visible. I likely shared evidence intended to encourage you to give the TFU framework and thinking routines strong consideration. I may have provided examples of student projects that demonstrated creativity, deep reflection, and provided “evidence” of thinking. I may have also shared interviews with some of the Project Zero faculty and researchers, video testimonies from teachers and students, photos and videos of lessons demonstrating thinking routines in action, photos and videos of schools and classrooms that are developing a culture of thinking, and a variety of resources to help you learn more and begin implementing all of this in your classroom. Thanks to Bemis Elementary School we now have video testimony of parents sharing their praise for visible thinking routines. These mothers describe how they regularly witness their children thinking deeply and pursuing their curiosities. I love that these moms are also familiar with the thinking routines and further promote thinking when their children are at home.
This young lady shares a few thoughts about visible thinking. She explains that “when you do Visible Thinking it helps you understand more and learn more than you thought you know.” I especially like the analogy she makes between thinking and pizza. I hadn’t heard that one before.
It’s great to see how much she values thinking and metacognition.
I’m very excited to be starting another learning adventure with graduate students here at The University of Memphis. For the next seven weeks I’ll be teaching IDT 7078: Seminar in Instructional Design and Technology. This semester’s topic is Learning with Web 2.0 and Social Media. Many of you may recall (because you were active participants) that I previously taught this course with a similar topic (Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0) in the Summers of 2008 and 2009. In both of these instances the students collaborated to publish the first two editions of the ebookTeaching and Learning with Web 2.0. Their exemplary work earned nominations for the international Edublog Awards (2008, 2009).
I also offered this course during Spring 2013 and the seminar topic was Learning with Web 2.0. It was the first time that I’d incorporated my work from Harvard, the idea of making thinking visible with technology, into a course. It pushed everyone’s ideas about thinking, learning, understanding, and technology. This experience as well as the work and research I’ve continued to do in the past year have resulted in the development of the class that starts today.
This semester’s class promises to be another outstanding experience for all of us. It has been designed utilizing some of the best practices and student feedback from the earlier offerings, and now incorporates many of the innovations in technology that have been developed in recent years. As we consider all the “cool” technologies and social media we will always keep the focus on their contributions to learning. These technologies can help us go a long ways in making thinking visible.
It’s going to be a different sort of experience and a wildly fun journey into learning. We invite you to join us!