Making Thinking Visible

Making Thinking Visible

It is no great news that children are created in a myriad of different ways and the way they synthesise things is as varied. We have the listeners, the visual learners, the kinesthetic and the cognitive to throw out  a few of the technical terms. Our challenge is not only to cater to all of those varying forms of learning but also to be aware of who our different learners are within our classroom.
 By making thinking visible, it helps us, as their educators, to see exactly what is going on ( or not going on in some cases) as each child is learning and to facilitate their learning further. Also, for a child to be able to show their thinking and explain how they came up with a solution, is a big confidence booster! :

The book that I’m about to plug is aptly entitled, “Making Thinking Visible”. It was given to me by one of my head teachers about 6 years ago. Since then, we have actually done a staff PD using the book to help us. The strategies are priceless, in my opinion, and utterly tied in with inquiry based thinking and learning. Many of them you will recognize as they have been around for a while and some may be new. All, in my opinion, are valuable and touch on all forms of learning. You can find the book  on Amazon by clicking the link below.


Perspective: Tug O’ War                                    

The Tug O’ War is an amazing provocation and converstation starter and will certainly get the children thinking about the key concept of perspective. Using pictures or text and a question to ponder, the children will write their opinion to the question on a sticky note and post it on a continuum of yes at one end and no at the other end. This can be done anonymously or not. I have used the technique along the lines of a gallery walk, with my 5th graders, where they look at the other answers and note their thinking. We then come together as a whole class to discuss the different perspectives. It is perfectly okay for the children to change their thinking with an explanation and to move their sticky note.

There doesn’t have to be a final outcome. I have found however, when used at the beginning of a unit of inquiry, that often some kids will change their minds as we progress with our learning and inquiries. 

Connection: Interactive Organisers

Making connections is a thinking skill that goes on all the time within all subject areas. By using large graphic organisers, the children are able to work together cooperatively, sharing and building upon their thinking. They have to use a ton of discussion as they work to place their thoughts. The concept maps that I often use within our inquiries are a great way to SEE how the children are making connections between the key concepts and their vocabulary or math skills or whatever you may be working on. You can check out concept maps here from a previous post.

Reflection: The picture below shows a formative assessment that I did towards the end of our unit of inquiry. But of course this can be done with any curricular area. I’m planning on trying it with our math unit of fractions too.

The children became REFLECTIVE, using the Learner Profile trait and they began by discussing within their table groups the things that they feel they learned from the unit. Each group then took the time to write their learning on the chart paper. Showing their learning and making their thinking visible allowed the children to share what they know, which is always a plus. It was also a great evaluation of my own where i could see who knew what, and perhaps which lines of inquiry I needed to develop further.  Finally, when we came to our final reflection of our unit, the information on this chart was priceless for the children to look upon and recall all of the learning. ( You can find a myriad of reflection sheets in my store. You have the option of print and go or editable packets.) 

There is an earlier post all about REFLECTION if you’re interested. You can link to it here. 
Meanwhile, I am continuing to try to make the kids thinking visible all in the pursuit of constant and never ending improvement- for them and mostly for me. 
Enjoy! 
~ SUSAN 
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