Making Thinking Visible

At the beginning of this year, we received an email about an opportunity to meet with other teachers in CVESD reading the book, Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchart.  The book’s first chapter asks:

“What kinds of thinking do you value and want to promote in your classroom?”

“What kinds of thinking does this lesson force students to do?”

Excerpt From: Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church & Karin Morrison. “Making Thinking Visible.”

When we take a moment to consider the kind of thinking required to complete a task, we are able to model that thinking aloud as we do mini lessons and give students the opportunity to ask and answer questions that are going to better guide them to be successful throughout the task. Before reading this, I had never stopped to consider all of the different kinds of thinking required to complete different tasks. Just like we teach different math strategies, we can teach different methods of thinking as well. This is something that many of us do automatically without realizing the strategies that we are applying.

When Jacob Ruth, the principal at CV Hills contacted Ron Ritchart, he got back the following response:

“Develop a culture of thinking.”

Ron Ritchhart

At the second session of Making Thinking Visible, we heard from several teachers who shared their strategies for “making thinking visible.” These strategies were centered around the idea of See, Think, Wonder. This is where students are asked to share what they see, what they think, and what they wonder – students share aloud and the teacher transcribes their thoughts. You can see the examples by looking at the #seethinkwonderCVESD.

A teacher at CV Hills shared how she uses See, Think, Wonder in her classroom while she is teaching math:

  • Ask:
    • What do you see in the word problem?
    • What do you think?
      • What is the task
      • Make a plan
      • Make a prediction
      • Think of what NOT to do (share with your partner)
  • Solve
    • Stay organized and label
    • Check precision
    • Try multiple strategies
  • Reflect/Wonder
    • Could I explain my thinking
    • Could someone else see my thinking?
    • How could I make this problem even more challenging?
    • Where would other face a challenge when working to solve this?

This connection works nicely with what we have been doing with #3reads because the students can utilize a different form of thinking with each section – reading and thinking to understand the word problem, predicting, solving, and then reflecting.

The solve section is where our students would apply most of their mathematical practices. These mathematical practices exist to help students be most successful as they are solving their problems. These are strategies that should be continuously referred to and applied.

The added reflection at the end is a great way to further the students’ understanding. Reflection is often cut out of lessons when it is a crucial piece to cementing the understanding, catching potential errors, and helping students move forward with their next challenge or task. 

The process of asking what students see, what they think, and what they wonder can help us recognize not only what they understand, but also what they may still have misconceptions about. This strategy helps support evidence based thinking within your classroom and works to make thinking “visible”. You can even push this further by asking them to identify evidence – for example by asking, “why do you think that?” When we support this conversation, students will start to recognize how others think in the classroom and develop skills to think in different ways for different purposes.

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One thought on “Making Thinking Visible

  1. Pingback: Recognizing and Fostering Strengths – Feaster Charter

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