Monday, January 9, 2017

Visible Thinking

Art, Auguste Rodin, Bronze, Famous  I've been reading up on the topic of visible thinking.  Its something I'm not always as good at using as I should be.

For those of you who are not familiar with visible thinking, it is framework designed to help shape intellectual development.

The goals of visible thinking include developing deeper understanding of the material, increase motivation for learning, improve attitudes towards learning and move the culture towards one of wanting to learn.

One thing is to establish simple rules for exploring ideas student thinking becomes visible through their discussions.Most of my students have trouble expressing their thinking.  Sometimes its because they do not understand the concept, sometimes its due to a lack of  vocabulary.

Visible thinking should involve teachers thinking aloud, students verbally expressing their thinking, students listening to others who are expressing their thoughts, students use discussion to help form understanding, and recording understanding via journals, solving problems, and completing projects.

Some of the recommended ideas for helping students develop visible thinking are:
1. Justifying your thinking through questions such as "What's going on?" or what do you see that makes you think that?"  Questions such as these help students learn to describe things and then support this with evidence.  This type of questioning can be used with everyone from whole class to individuals.

2.  Asking what they think, what still puzzles them, or what are some ways to explore the topic further.  These questions can help connect the current topic with prior knowledge.  This is good to use at the beginning of a topic because it helps students recognize what they already know.  It can also be used to figure out what they still need to learn.

3. Another one is the "I used to think.......but now I think.........." which can be used to show how student understanding has changed.  It might be as simple as I used to think I should add numbers and variables together but now, I think you add numbers to numbers and variables to variables.

4. Use the See, Think, Wonder when introducing new material.  Assign them to preview the section while they consider what they are seeing, what do they think its about, and is there anything they wonder about as they look through the material.

5.  Think about Chalk Talk which is where you list each essential vocabulary word on a piece of chart paper. Each student has a marker and they add their definition, thought, or comment on the word.  They rotate completing this for every word.  This activity can also be used for a mathematical reflection where you place a series of questions, one on each piece of chart paper, and students write down their thoughts, questions, or examples.

6. One way to increase discussion is to present problems to students that have no one right answer.  This could be done via questions such as "Which one does not belong?" or "I have 5 coins in my pocket, what might their total be?"  Have students justify or explain their answer.

These are some simple, easy to implement steps which help increase visible thinking in your classroom.  Let me know what you think.