Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Making Thinking Visible

It took me a few months, but I just finished Making Thinking Visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison (2011).

I let a lot of these ideas percolate, and my classes even tried two of them ("See - Think - Wonder" when we read Where Children Sleep and "Chalk Talk" renamed "Marker Talk" prior to trying gamification).

Here's the gist of what I KNOW I need to do with these thinking routines:

  1. Prior to trying any routine, let students know the reason WHY.
  2. When sharing the goal for the day, or activity share the THINKING goal, not the ACTION goal.
  3. Choose a routine and content you BELIEVE in, and be INVOLVED in the process.
  4. Have a student (or facilitating teacher) document the learning (notes, photos, videos...).
  5. Use the language of thinking and reflecting throughout the day (make the language just as routine as the routines themselves). Continually notice and NAME the thinking.
  6. Keep asking, "What makes you say that?"
  7. Take the time to reflect on the process, while setting goals for next time.
  8. DOCUMENT this learning, reflection, and goals so it's all visible to the students.


Favorite ideas from the book that I'll need to keep addressing...

  • Group success is dependent on the group’s ability to listen and respond to one another’s ideas. Successful groups engaged with the ideas of the group members, echoing back the ideas that were presented and asking clarifying and probing questions of one another. p36
  • When teachers capture students’ ideas, they are signaling that those ideas and thoughts have value and are worthy of continued exploration and examination. p39
  • These thinking routines help students to find their own voices and value and respect the voices of others. p213
  • I want my classroom to be a place “where a group’s collective as well as individual thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members." p220
  • ...without the benefit of others, our thinking would be severely curtailed. ... Our individual thinking benefits from being challenged, from the need to articulate ideas clearly and concisely to others, from the presentation of alternative perspectives and insights through others’ presentation of logic, the raising of questions, and so on… p220
  • The kind of modeling that creates culture is more subtle, ubiquitous, and embedded. It is the modeling of who the teacher is as a thinker and a learner. p242
  • Understanding benefits from listening to and taking in others’ ideas and viewpoints, evaluating them, making connections to one’s own thoughts, and then presenting one’s thinking to others, knowing that it, too, will be challenged and must be backed by evidence and reasons. p245
  • Learning is an active process that entails getting personally involved. p262

Online Resource for Thinking Routines

My Notes from the Book

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