Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

Learning for living, Character for life, Hope for the Future

VISIBLE THINKING – Project Zero, Harvard University

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At our 2012 Adventist Schools Victoria Annual Conference (ASVAC) we chose to place in the hands of each teacher a copy of the book ‘Visible Thinking’ by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church & Karin Morrison
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The precursor to this book is the PROJECT ZERO VISIBLE THINKING website. The resources on the site will be useful to complement your reading of the book.
There you will find PDFs of most of the Thinking Routines that are featured in the book. These PDFs can be used as easy references for teachers, as well as handouts to students.

The following quote from the website introduces Visible Thinking In Action:

VisibleThinking In Action

Every committed educator wants better learning and more thoughtful students. Visible Thinking is a way of helping to achieve that without a separate ‘thinking skills’ course or fixed lessons.

Visible Thinking is a broad and flexible framework for enriching classroom learning in the content areas and fostering students’ intellectual development at the same time. Here are some of its key goals:

  1. Deeper understanding of content,
  2. Greater motivation for learning,
  3. Development of learners’ thinking and learning abilities,
  4. Development of learners’ attitudes toward thinking and learning and their alertness to opportunities for thinking and learning (the “dispositional” side of thinking),
  5. A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners.

Toward achieving these goals, Visible Thinking involves several practices and resources. Teachers are invited to use with their students a number of “thinking routines” — simple protocols for exploring ideas — around whatever topics are important, say fractions arithmetic, the Industrial Revolution, World War II, the meaning of a poem, the nature of democracy. Visible Thinking includes attention to four “thinking ideals” — understanding, truth, fairness, and creativity. Visible Thinking emphasizes several ways of making students’ thinking visible to themselves and one another, so that they can improve it.

The idea of visible thinking helps to make concrete what a thoughtful classroom might look like. At any moment, we can ask, “Is thinking visible here? Are students explaining things to one another? Are students offering creative ideas? Are they, and I as their teacher, using the language of thinking? Is there a brainstorm about alternative interpretations on the wall? Are students debating a plan?”

When the answers to questions like these are consistently yes, students are more likely to show interest and commitment as learning unfolds in the classroom. They find more meaning in the subject matters and more meaningful connections between school and everyday life. They begin to display the sorts of attitudes toward thinking and learning we would most like to see in young learners — not closed-minded but open-minded, not bored but curious, neither gullible nor sweepingly negative but appropriately skeptical, not satisfied with “just the facts” but wanting to understand.

Continue reading.

Author: Sandra England

Learning & Teaching Coordinator F-12 at Gilson College, an Adventist Schools Victoria school. Twitter: @GCLandT or @sandy_e

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