“Some may say homework is good practice, and practice makes perfect. Others insist homework is unproductive and pointless.
“What benefit is there in doing 20 of the same type of math problem? If students didn’t understand the lesson from the day, not understanding 20 problems may make them feel that math is inaccessible. This is how children begin to struggle in math and decide it’s not for them. And if they did understand the lesson, repeating similar problems is pointless. Worse still, students begin to believe math is boring, irrelevant, a set of mundane rules, and maybe even a waste of time.
“What if homework could be a means for promoting self-efficacy, agency, and motivation to learn? Teaching students to actively pursue knowledge and see it as valuable is critical to their success both in and out of school.” — Margie Pearse, Edutopia
“When we use formative assessment strategies, we’re on a fact-finding mission. As educators, we work to figure out who understands the teaching point of a lesson, who has mastered a new concept, who needs extra help. Formative assessment happens naturally as we walk around the room and listen in on student conversations or examine their classwork after the bell rings. But how can you use technological tools to check for understanding in meaningful, sustainable, and scalable ways?” — Monica Burns, Edutopia
“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.
Here are some resources and ideas to help everyone learn about the life and important contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King.
You can learn a lot from simply watching this video developed by (I think) a 2nd grade class (Please help me find the original source so that I can properly cite and acknowledge their outstanding work.).
“Dogwood Elementary 3rd grade teacher Dr. Heather Fisher was named the 2012-2013 Shelby County Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year. The classroom veteran is a life-long learner whose passion for education rubs off on her students and co-workers” (Source).
I became acquainted with Heather just over a year ago when she was selected as a 2012 Martin Institute Fellow to Project Zero. The impact that experience at Harvard has had on her teaching is evident in the video clip below. In addition to spending time together at the Project Zero Institute last July, Heather was also an active participant in our study group during this past school year. She has been committed to learning more about teaching for understanding and has a desire for her students to thrive. Heather has also taken advantage of opportunities to share her expertise with others through presentations and workshops. There’s no wonder why her students feel “lucky” to be in her class.