Monday, October 04, 2010

Visible Thinking-- the potential

Visible Thinking

This tab has been open in my browser for likely a couple of weeks now—

At this point I can’t thank whomever point me to this resource--

So sorry, for it’s full of goodness--

It called to me daily, reminding me of Darren Kuropatwa’s “Expert Voices” projects that he often described as making thinking visible—

Powerful concepts on these pages, ones that, were I currently in a classroom, I’d use or modify with a goal of bringing to the surface for all learners, me included, our thinking – to analyze, to reflect, to clarify and to dig deeper.

Just some snippets describing Visible Thinking, a Harvard Graduate School of Education project—

"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.

We talk the need for relevance and connections, is this one avenue that leads in that direction? The attitudes, dispositions, they describe above really resonate with me.

The project details thinking routines, ideals, and suggestions that are easily incorporated into any curriculum for any age band.

About thinking routines---

Thinking routines are simple structures, for example a set of questions or a short sequence of steps, that can be used across various grade levels and content. What makes them routines, versus merely strategies, is that they get used over and over again in the classroom so that they become part of the fabric of classroom' culture. The routines become the ways in which students go about the process of learning.

Here are links to two examples of thinking routines--

About thinking ideals---

Thinking ideals are areas of thinking like understanding, truth, creativity, fairness, and more. They are important kinds of thinking that we cherish and strive to cultivate. Although there are certainly other thinking ideals besides these four, right now Visible Thinking includes specific guidelines on how to foster the development of these specific ideals.

What does it mean to get started with Visible Thinking by focusing on an ideal? You focus on that ideal, foreground thinking routines that emphasize the ideal, and draw out students' ideas and reflections about that ideal, to foster their conceptual development.

Personally and professionally thinking ideals of understanding, truth, creativity, and fairness have great appeal, particularly when I see them aligning with learning in a digital age.

Just imagine, youngsters deep into inquiry based learning around questions of social justice, around a globalized digital society-- having thinking routines, thinking ideals as part of their learning toolbox. Imagine making their thinking visible--

What learning might transpire-- What a future we might have before us--

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