Making Thinking Visible – Part 2

Thinking happens mostly in our heads, invisible to others and sometimes even to ourselves. A move in future-focused education is for thinking to become visible, both to help learners and educators aware of their thinking and allow others to benefit from seeing thinking in action.

In a previous article, I spoke about the concept of Visible Thinking as proposed by Harvard’s Project Zero, and how valuable this move is within the educational world to equip learners with a vital skill. In this article, I thought I would further answer the question of “What is visible thinking?”

So, What is visible thinking? Ron Ritcchart and David Perkins of Educational Leadership speak about key principles that anchor Visible thinking within the classroom.
1. Learning is a consequence of thinking. Students acquisition of knowledge, as well as their retention of knowledge, increases when they think through the concepts and information they are studying. This is not a solo endeavour. Often, knowledge is often shared a built upon through collaboration with other learners.
2. Good thinking is not a matter of skill, but also dispositions. Characteristics like inquisitiveness, scepticism, curiosity and open-mindedness all make for good thinking. These characteristics do not concern so much a person’s abilities, but
rather how they apply those abilities.
3. The development of thinking is a social endeavour. “In classrooms, as in the world, there is a constant interplay between the group and the individual. We learn from those around us and our engagement with them. “
4. Fostering thinking requires us to make thinking visible. Effective thinkers make their thinking visible, meaning they externalise their thoughts through speaking, writing, drawing, or some other method. By making thinking visible, they can then improve on or direct these thoughts.
5. Schools must be cultures of thinking for teachers. If we want to model what visible thinking looks like, we as educators need to make our thinking visible. “Professional learning communities—in which rich discussions of teaching,
learning, and thinking become a fundamental part of teachers; experiences—provide the foundation for nurturing thinking and learning in the classroom.”

One element of making thinking visible is seen in Thinking Routines, routines that allow for clear, concise and creative thinking. Thinking Routines allow for the deepening of learning within the classroom, allowing learners to see what thinking looks like in certain environments and strengthening connections made to content or knowledge. These routines have been proven to be effective in the acquisition of knowledge from primary school levels all the way through to working professionals.

This is an exciting move in education, and so hard to condense to a small article, which means that this will probably come up a lot more in future articles!

By Gareth Stark