Making Thinking Visible: Building Understanding through Critical and Creative Thinking.

I’m part of a team completing an online course at Harvard University. Visible Thinking… In the past I’ve completed a number of PD’s on Thinking Tools and used the tools from time to time BUT they never became embedded in my teaching. That’s changing! My goal is to understand each tool, be able to select the right tool and to make thinking visible for my students. I’ve already clarified my thinking. What have I learnt that I can share so far – basic but important!

  • No learning will happen without thinking. That seems very straight forward, but there’s more to this assumption…

  • So what is good thinking? Thinking and quality are related. Thinking therefore is more than a skill, it’s a disposition.

  • Good thinking does not happen in isolation and needs to be visible so the thinking can be reflected upon and used at a later time or as a base for future learning.

  • The culture of a school is crucial to developing quality thinkers and teachers need to be supported to assess using evidence grounded in student work.

Recently, my students and parents completed a thinking exercise. They were asked to reflect and record together their thinking about how driving a car is like reading and writing. Firstly, I wanted the parents to understand that thinking isn’t always recorded neatly in books. As part of a group assignment my team explored Connect – Extend – Challenge in our classrooms or in other school roles.

Following on the parent and student session, I used the same question to complete a Connect, Extend and Challenge in the classroom. My students’ thinking had developed from the initial session with parents and with a thinking tool for structure I was surprised by the further connections they were able to make. The children used sticky notes and all students confidently contributed.

Thinking Tools 120Thinking Tools 121Thinking Tools 122

Examples of their thinking:

CONNECT: There is a beginning, middle and end in a story and on a journey. Red lights are a big full stop. When you are driving you read a map. Concentrating on the road is like concentrating on your writing.

EXTEND: Writing on a line is like driving on a line. There is a problem in a story and there can be a problem on a road. The yellow light is like slowing down or a comma.

CHALLENGE: Having you car on the right track and having your writing on a line. Forming letters is like driving a car because you have to go the right way. Focusing on the road and focusing on the writing. How can I write smoothly? What will the middle of my story and journey be like? How can I check I’m going the right direction?

Lot’s to learn and improve upon but you’ve got to start somewhere!

Cheers Nina

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