Sunday, 31 May 2015

Visible Thinking Research - unpacking the gems!

Research links:


Helen Lewis: Welsh teacher educator
Age 3 - 7 students
Encouraging young children to become aware of and talk about their thinking.

Visible thinking routines:
  • mind maps & visual organisers
  • explicit use of the language
Video as a source of dialogue:
  • evidence of other children doing 'good thinking'.
  • opportunity for further discussion
  • explicitly name and celebrate 'thinking skills'

2.  Visible thinking website:
Teach mini strategies to help develop and extend thinking.
Resulting in:
  • Greater motivation for learning
  • Development of learners' thinking and learning abilities
  • Development of learners' attitudes toward thinking and alertness for thinking opportunities
  • A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learner
Mini strategies:
Routines - repeatedly used, cross-curriculum, few steps, easy to teach, group or  individual.

  • What makes you say that? (evidence based reasoning) Begin with think, pair, share.
  • 3, 2, 1 bridge - 3 ideas, 2 questions, 1 analogy / simile - connections between prior knowledge & new ideas over time.
  • Colour, symbol, image to represent a concept e.g. red. Share ideas and adjust according to other opinion.

3.  "Making Thinking Visible" 
Ron Ritchhart and David Perkins. "Making Thinking Visible," Educational Leadership 65, no. 5 (February 2008): 57-61.

6 key principles:

  • Learning is a consequence of thinking - build on others' ideas - team endeavour.
  • Thinking requires skills and dispositions - Open-mindedness, curiosity, attention to evidence, skepticism, and imaginativeness...
  • The development of thinking is a social endeavour - a supportive social environment.
  • Fostering thinking requires making thinking visible.
  • Classroom culture sets the tone:

  1. thinking routines established
  2. the language of thinking is used
  3. time is allocated for thinking about thinking
  4. thinking is modelled
  5. the physical space allows for thinking
  6. relationships and patterns of interaction focus on thinking
  7. relevant opportunities provided for thinking

  • Schools must value and allow time for teachers to be thinkers

What does it sound like in class?
Listen to student ideas - spring from there.
Scaffold and draw out with appropriate visual organisers. Think-puzzle-explore routine
What do you 'think you know'? This allows for freedom to share - possibilities rather than absolutes.
'What makes you say that?' prompting the need for evidence.
Finally: 'What are you puzzling over?' opens them up to engaging in the struggle.

Draw students into metacognition using picture books: Oh the Thinks You Can Think: Seuss

What do you think, see, wonder? This is an awesome tool to encourage deeper thinking.
Dewey: 1910 The origin of thinking resides in perplexity, confusion or doubt.
Teachers verbalise the thinking goals behind a learning task.
What do you see?What do you think?What do you wonder?

The focus of this research was:
1. To make thinking visible in the classroom so students can recognise their own thinking.
2. To allow students to share their thinking so it can be guided.


Start by building a classroom culture that values and nurtures thinking.
 - explicitly model thinking strategies
 - systems or routines that incorporate 'thinking' language and give time for 'thinking'

Possible thinking routines:
Think, pair, share, KWL
Spend time establishing these at the start of the year, indicating the importance of thinking.
Here are a range of Thinking Routines explained: (Click on the image for a larger view) 

What is the point of these routines:

6. The Growth Mindset:

Encourage students to value the struggle.
We can get better at learning and thinking.
Knowing the process and who to ask if we get stuck.
Have a class culture that values mistakes or failure and learns from them.

'I want to do this because it is so hard!'
'Go slow, dig deep.'

7. The Learning Pit:!Instilling-a-growth-mindset/c24tn/1

Make the process of 'The Learning Pit' clear and visible to learners so they know what happens and the skills to use at different points.

Make sure you throw in the challenging questions that causes learners to 'struggle' to find the answer. I found it! There is no sense of elation without the struggle.

See 'The Learning Pit' as a collaborative experience where we build on each others ideas and skills.

The 'Learning Pit' sequence:
1.  At the start of the pit - ask a concept question - to push past surface knowledge.

2. At the bottom of the pit - add thinking strategies and collaborative opportunities. Focus on the Growth Mindset, never giving up but celebrating the struggle.

3. Outside the pit you have your deep answer or 'Eureka' experience.

4. Post pit - ask metacognitive questions - how did you feel, what strategies did you use, what will you use again?

8. Meaningful Reflection: 

Focus on self improvement rather than achieving grades.
Reflection gives next steps for learning - formative.
Reflection is documented to allow for tracking of progress and thought process.
Reflection is shared to provide collective support.

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