Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making Thinking Visible

One of the ways teachers can support students in becoming better readers, writers, and thinkers is to make thinking visible.  Project Zero is a research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that has created 30 different thinking routines designed to promote self-directed learners who use thinking to achieve understanding.  “One reason sophisticated thinking develops slowly is that thinking happens inside the head: Children do not readily 'see' their own cognitive moves, and most classroom practices do not engage students in substantive thinking around content very much at all, and certainly not in ways that make it visible across the classroom.”  (“Visible Thinking”)  The research-based thinking routines are designed to scaffold learners in their thinking while exploring content, deepening their cognition while developing subject mastery.  The products that they produce support students' communication skills, requiring them to convey the thinking in their heads through speaking, writing and/or drawing.  

citation:  "Visible Thinking."  Web. 21 December 2010

Visible thinking is further supported by Dan Roam, author of Back of the Napkin, who writes about our natural visual dominance and how we have replaced the use of pictures in our lives as a primary form of communication with abstract elements such as text.  (The title of his book is inspired by the many business ideas discovered by doodles on the back of napkins during happy hour or travel.)  In his companion workbook Unfolding the Napkin he writes, "There is no more powerful way to discover a new idea than to draw a simple picture.  There is no faster way to develop and test an idea that to draw a simple picture.  There is no more effective way to share an idea with other people than to draw a simple picture."

citation:  Web. 12 January 2011

What are the ways in which we support, engage, and challenge students to unlock their thinking and make it visible so that they may discover, test and share their ideas?

One idea is to take a visible coding activity and have students plot their thinking on napkins!

Compass Points
In response to an idea or proposition, graph your thinking on a compass using the following criteria:

E = Excited

What excites you about this idea or proposition? What’s the upside?

W = Worrisome 

What do you find worrisome about this idea or proposition? What’s the downside?

N = Need to Know

What else do you need to know or find out about this idea or proposition? What additional information would help you to evaluate things?

S = Stance or Suggestion for Moving Forward

What is your current stance or opinion on the idea or proposition? How might you move forward in your evaluation of this idea or proposition?

Citation:  "Compass Points."  Web. 21 December 2010 

What do you think about this strategy?  How might you use this strategy?

Compass Points on a Napkin

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