Making Thinking Visible is based on the work being done at Harvard’s Project Zero and is part of a larger study of Cultures of Thinking about which you can read more here. The book provides a background about why a thinking focus is important and provides an introduction into the Thinking Routines that are recommended as a way to bring the theory into practice in the classroom. I’ve found it a nice combination of going deeper into our professional practice as teachers, and practical suggestions that we can implement quickly and reflect upon as we go. I’m fortunate to be involved with a group of primary teachers at my school who are exploring the text and trying some of the routines as part of their Collaborative Inquiry: How might inquiry-based learning look in a primary French Immersion program?
We’ll be each trying one of the routines from the first section of this book to get us started in discussion at our next PLC meeting, but first I thought I would attempt to briefly summarize the first part of the book.
Here is one of the authors, Ron Ritchart, explaining why we need a culture of thinking in schools.
What kinds of thinking do you value and want to promote in your classroom?And, as we look at the kinds of activities in the learning environments we create in schools…What kind of thinking does this lesson/activity force students to do?
The authors suggest the following activity which would be great for any teacher to try:Make a list of all the actions and activities with which your students are engaged in a subject you teach. Now, working from this list, create 3 new lists:1. The actions student in your class spend most of their time doing. What actions account for 75 percent of what students do in your class on a regular basis?2. The actions most authentic to the discipline, that is, those things that real scientists, writers, artists, and so on actually do as they go about their work.3. The actions you remember doing yourself from a time when you were actively engaged in developing some new understanding of something within the discipline or subject area.
They outline 8 thinking ‘MOVES’
- Observing closely and describing what’s there
- Building explanations and interpretations
- Reasoning with evidence
- Making connections
- Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
- Capturing the heart and forming conclusions
- Wondering and asking questions
- Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things
If you’ve ever questioned the way you’ve seen Bloom’s taxonomy used, as I have, you’ll enjoy the critique the authors provide there, but that’s another blog post altogether.
The Thinking Routines
- Introducing and Exploring Ideas
- Synthesizing and Organizing Ideas
- Routines for Digging Deeper into Ideas