New MindShift Piece on Visible Thinking

Greg Rakozy via Unsplash

Mindshift has a new and insightful post by Katrina Schwartz on the ways in which routines and structures for thinking can assist learners in making sense of and integrating new learning.

When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges

“Amidst the discussions about content standards, curriculum and teaching strategies, it’s easy to lose sight of the big goals behind education, like giving students tools to deepen their quantitative and qualitative understanding of the world. Teaching for understanding has always been a challenge, which is why Harvard’s Project Zero has been trying to figure out how great teachers do it.

Some teachers discuss metacognition with students, but they often simplify the concept by describing only one of its parts — thinking about thinking. Teachers are trying to get students to slow down and take note of how and why they are thinking and to see thinking as an action they are taking. But two other core components of metacognition often get left out of these discussions — monitoring thinking and directing thinking. When a student is reading and stops to realize he’s not really understanding the meaning behind the words, that’s monitoring. And most powerfully, directing thinking happens when students can call upon specific thinking strategies to redirect or challenge their own thinking.”

Read the rest of the piece here.


Visible Thinking Routines — Powerful Strategies for Learning

see think wonder

Grade 4 students use the See Think Wonder routine

Visible Thinking Routines are relatively simple, but powerful strategies for organizing and seeing learning in action.

Harvard’s Project Zero Site has a great introduction to Thinking Routines:

“Visible Thinking makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich. These routines are simple structures, for example a set of questions or a short sequence of steps, that can be used across various grade levels and content. What makes them routines, versus merely strategies, is that they get used over and over again in the classroom so that they become part of the fabric of classroom’ culture. The routines become the ways in which students go about the process of learning.

Thinking routines form the core of the Visible Thinking program. What makes these routines work to promote the development of a students thinking and the classroom culture are that each routine:

  • Is goal oriented in that it targets specific types of thinking
  • Gets used over and over again in the classroom
  • Consists of only a few steps
  • Is easy to learn and teach
  • Is easy to support when students are engaged in the routine
  • Can be used across a variety of context
  • Can be used by the group or by the individual

Routines are really just patterns of action that can be integrated and used in a variety of contexts. You might even use more than one routine in teaching a single lesson. Thus, you shouldn’t think about the routine as taking time away from anything else you are doing, they should actually enhance what you are trying to do in the classroom.” Read more from their site here

Another great source on making thinking visible can be found in this ISSUU by Frank Curkovic.

You can also get a good overview of thinking routines in the Vimeo clip below:

Out of Eden Walk

Photo Credit: Natman via Compfight cc

Journalist Paul Salopek is tracing the path of human ancestors and is walking from Ethiopia to Tierra del Fuego. He began in January 2013 and his entire journey will take about 7 years.

There are many ways to follow along.

1. Twitter: Paul Salopek

2. Harvard’s Project Zero:

“Out of Eden Learn is a unique online learning community designed to accompany Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk. Through Out of Eden Learn, students from around the world can engage in Paul’s journey and all that it represents. They explore their own neighborhoods, investigate contemporary global issues, and reflect on how they as individuals fit into a broader geographical and historical context. In addition, they share their perspectives and interact with one another on an exciting digital platform that uses social media as a springboard for deep, meaningful learning. The goal is to ignite students’ interest in the wider world and support them to become more informed, thoughtful, and engaged “global citizens.”

Out of Eden Learn is an initiative of Project Zero, a research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in collaboration with Paul Salopek. With generous support from the Abundance Foundation, Out of Eden Learn is open to all schools and students, free of charge.” Read more here and here.

3. The New York Times:

Beginning piece, November 22, 2013

A Stroll Around the World

“ON THE GULF OF AQABA, Jordan — I AM walking across the world. In January I set out on foot from Herto Bouri, an early site of Homo sapiens fossils in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia, to retrace the pathways of the first anatomically modern humans who colonized the planet at least 60,000 years ago. My finish line is in Tierra del Fuego, at the chilly tip of South America, the last nook of the continents settled by our ancestors. This long ramble will last seven continuous years. It will span 21,000 miles. (I have logged about 1,700 miles to date.).”  Read more here.

Most Recent, November 21, 2014

Tiptoeing Through Kurdistan

” KARS, Turkey — ‘We have enemies.’

The old Kurdish woman said this by way of running me off. I had trekked into her mountain hamlet at dusk, hoping to camp nearby. She waved a hand at the stone homes around us. Most were empty. There had been a killing between neighbors. The house of the perpetrator had been leveled. Fearing retribution, his relatives had run for their lives. Armed members of the victim’s family were now guarding the place against their return. The watchmen’s lonesome campfire seesawed in the wind high up on a cliff.

“It’s not safe here,” the woman apologized. So I walked on. I slept five miles away in a field.” Read more here.

4. National Geographic:

Blessed. Cursed. Claimed.

On Foot through the Holy Lands, December 2014

“Jerusalem is not a city of war. Avner Goren is stubborn on this point.

We are on foot, walking under a cloudless morning sky in the Levant, following a river of raw sewage that foams in torrents from East Jerusalem—12 million gallons a day, Goren informs me—a foul discharge that runs for 23 miles down to the Dead Sea. We are trailing the waste as a form of pilgrimage. Goren, one of Israel’s leading archaeologists, thinks like this.” Read more here.

5. Out of Eden Walk Site

“Welcome to our digital campfire.

Although you’re joining it online, this discussion was actually kindled some 60,000 years ago, when our ancestors first wandered out of the prehistoric African Eden, and migrated across the Middle East and Asia, before crossing into North America and rambling to points south.

From 2013 to 2020, writer Paul Salopek is recreating that epic journey on foot, starting at humankind’s birthplace in Ethiopia and ending at the southern tip of South America, where our forebears ran out of horizon. Along the way he is engaging with the major stories of our time — from climate change to technological innovation, from mass migration to cultural survival — by walking alongside the people who inhabit these headlines every day. Moving at the slow beat of his footsteps, Paul is also seeking the quieter, hidden stories of people who rarely make the news.” Read more here.

6. Thematic Maps

A variety of interesting maps and resources are available here.