“In the quickly evolving workplace and at a time when graduates are competing for jobs and careers with others around the world, the capacity to change rapidly and apply new skills is paramount. Bottom line: Learning how to learn is a game changer in the global knowledge economy, and it’s never too early to teach students how to begin to learn more independently.”
Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers share three strategies for helping students become self-motivated and take charge of their learning.
“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.
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.
As a math teacher I would sometimes hear students ask, “When are we going to use this in real life.” I worked hard to provide students with practical experiences and tangible answers to this question as I think doing so helps with transference and engagement. I relied on feedback from my father (an architect, contractor, and farmer) and my friends that work in the areas of engineering, accounting/finance/sales, and healthcare for ideas and real-world examples that I could use in my classroom. I think the students and I would have also enjoyed having examples similar to the ones included in the following video. Amazing!
Visible Thinking from Project Zero at Harvard University includes methods for making students’ thinking visible to themselves, to their peers, and to the teacher. Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich. Thinking Routines are mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life. These routines encourage the development of a culture of thinking and can be used across all grade levels and content areas.
Workshop participants will learn to develop opportunities for students to make their thinking visible with technology. With freely available technologies students can engage in Thinking Routines and provide evidence of their thinking and demonstrate their understanding of course content in multiple ways (images, audio, video, presentations, artwork, and more). When thinking is visible in classrooms, students are in a position to be more metacognitive, to think about their thinking. When thinking is visible, it becomes clear that school is not about memorizing content but exploring ideas. Teachers benefit when they can see students’ thinking because misconceptions, prior knowledge, reasoning ability, and degrees of understanding are more likely to be uncovered. Teachers can then address these challenges and extend students’ thinking by starting from where they are.
Strategies for designing lessons and practical tips for implementation will be shared.
The content of this professional development workshop builds on the research and work of Project Zero at Harvard University. Participants will be introduced to Making Thinking Visible and the use of the Visible Thinking Routines. This is a research-based approach to integrating the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject areas and grade levels. Before we begin focusing on technology integration, it is important that we have a framework of understanding for these topics as we will build on them later.
Making Thinking Visible – 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
Visible Thinking Routines – Thinking routines are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life.
Anshul Samar is the CEO of Elementeo, a startup company seeking to combine fun and learning. This article provides an overview of the company’s goals, video of Anshul’s CEO speech, and a description of the company’s first game which teaches chemistry through a role-playing board game.
This is interesting to me on many different levels. Watching the video of Anshul’s CEO speech gives me the impression that this may have actually been a class project. Regardless, couldn’t a student activity like this be the jumping-off point for effectively integrating technology with teaching and learning?
How many content areas/topics/objectives/skills would this kind of activity include? I’ve noticed 1) math, business and economics, 2) science/chemistry, 3) art and graphic design, 4) language arts, 5) perhaps copyright and patents, 6) ……???
If this was a class project, do you think that the teacher could have ever imagined that this would be the result?
Elementeo is seeking to put the fun back into learning. Has education taken the fun out of learning? It seems that these students think so. What does that tell those of us that are teachers?
If this is not a class project and Anshul and his friends did this of their own initiative then perhaps we, as teachers, should reconsider what it is that we have our students doing. I suggest that a traditional lesson/unit on entrepreneurship would likely not teach students nearly as much about the world of business (and the other aforementioned content areas) as this activity likely did.
While students weren’t necessarily playing games but rather developing games, this could be an example of effectively bringing gaming into the classroom and integrating it with the curriculum.
Let’s begin to consider all the elements of effective teaching and learning (according to today’s research) that might possibly be identified in a class project like this. Such an activity might include 1) problem solving, 2) discovery learning, 3) legitimate peripheral participation and/or authentic/situated/contextual teaching and learning, 4) communities of practice, 5) collaboration, 6) project management (for those instructional designers among us), 7) ……???
I think this could be a rich discussion. Please, please chime in.
Blubbr is a free website that makes it possible for you to create and play trivia games with embedded videos. Blubbr calls the games trivs. You can play trivs in different categories, from celebs and music to sport and education. Click on the image below to play a sample triv now.
I setup my Blubbr account (I’d be glad for you to connect with me) and gave it a test drive. It seems that at its core, Blubbr is about making interesting things into fun games. I see many potential educational connections and personal uses.
Here are a few ideas that might be useful to teachers and students.
You and your students can create trivs focused on the unit you’re currently studying.
Students can develop a triv focused on personal interests and then extend that into research, writing, journaling, etc.
It can be a useful strategy for pre-testing, review and as a study guide.
Trivs can be an engaging alternative strategy for book reports, science presentations, social studies reports, and more.
Allowing students to design quizzes puts them in the role of the teacher. This technique can encourage higher-order thinking.
You and your students can create trivs to introduce yourselves at the beginning of the year.
Developing trivs can be a fun way for students to reflect on a novel, science unit, historical event, poetry, or the highlights of their school year.
You can challenge your students and their families by sharing trivs on your website, via email, through social networks, or by sharing the links in your print-based newsletter.
In addition to it’s many educational uses, Blubbr can also be used for fun with family and friends. Here are a few ideas that I considered.
Develop a triv about your parents and share it with your family to celebrate your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.
Prepare for the sights you’ll be visiting during vacation by sharing a triv with your travel companions.
Show your support for your favorite team or athlete with a triv about them.
Challenge your family to a scavenger hunt with a series of trivs that will lead them to a surprise.
You can challenge your family and friends to complete trivs by sharing them on your blog, through Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, or via email.
Blubbr is simple and fun. With well-designed activities it can make significant educational contributions. So what are you waiting for? Go triv something…and share your trivs in this post’s comments so that we can play, too.
I was invited to be the speaker at the Arkansas Christian Educators Association Conference recently. Since I had more than 3 hours of time allotted, I was able to design a series of activities and discussions around the topics of facilitated learning and technology integration. I’m going to share some of the resources in a series of posts. This is the first entry in the series.
The information below is part of what I shared with the leaders of the various faculty groups participating in the conference ahead of time. This gave them a chance to consider some of the broad ideas prior to participating in the workshop. This was important as we ended the day by allowing attendees to breakout into their faculty groups. The goal was for the administrators to facilitate conversation about how the information presented during the day might fit into their schools, discuss some of the barriers and benefits, and to identify ways to support implementation. Flipping the instruction allowed the administrators to be exposed to the information ahead of time, reflect on it, and have the chance to better prepare to guide their faculty’s conversation.
Shhh!!! The Students Are Learning:
Being an Effective Classroom Facilitator
We often hear that teachers need to be facilitators of learning rather than deliverers of information. Through this workshop, we will begin to develop strategies for managing a classroom where students have a leading role in learning and the teacher becomes an engaged classroom coach. Strategies for designing and practical tips for implementing units will be shared.
Before You Begin
Please reflect on your experiences designing and implementing facilitated learning activities and units.
What worked well and what would you do differently next time?
What advice can you share with teachers preparing to facilitate learning?
This screencast will provide you with an overview of the big ideas that we will be discussing. We will dive much deeper during the workshops and explore application across grade levels and curricular areas, strategies for implementation, benefits and barriers, and more. This video is simply intended to provide you with an early frame of reference as you participate in the upcoming workshops and as you prepare to facilitate the afternoon discussion with your individual school or division.