Purpose and Goals
Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based approach to integrating the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters. An extensive and adaptable collection of practices, Visible Thinking has a double goal: on the one hand, to cultivate students’ thinking skills and dispositions, and, on the other, to deepen content learning. By thinking dispositions, we mean curiosity, concern for truth and understanding, a creative mindset, not just being skilled but also alert to thinking and learning opportunities and eager to take them
Who is it for?
Visible Thinking is for teachers, school leaders and administrators in K – 12 schools who want to encourage the development of a culture of thinking in their classrooms and schools.
Key Features and Practices
At the core of Visible Thinking are practices that help make thinking visible: Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes and encourage active processing. They are short, easy-to-learn mini-strategies that extend and deepen students’ thinking and become part of the fabric of everyday classroom life. Thinking Ideals are easily accessible concepts capturing naturally occurring goals, strivings or interests that often propel our thinking. Four Ideals — Understanding, Truth, Fairness and Creativity — are presented as modules on this site. There are associated routines for each ideal and within each module there are activities that help deepen students’ concepts around the ideal.
A key feature of the Visible Thinking approach is the Teacher Study Group as described in the School-Wide Culture of Thinking section. In these groups teachers reflect on student work, or documentation, generated by students when using routines or investigating an ideal. Documentation such as lists, maps, charts, diagrams, and worksheets reveal learners’ unfolding ideas as they think through an issue. In study groups teachers use the structured conversation of a protocol to look at and reflect on thinking present in student work.
What You Will Find on the Site
This site provides a convenient way to learn about Visible Thinking as well as thorough descriptions of the ideals, routines and activities that we’ve developed from research in K-12 schools.
The six sections of this site are: Visible Thinking in Action; Getting Started; Thinking Routines; Thinking Ideals; School Wide Culture of Thinking; Additional Resources. Each of the illustrated boxes on the left margin of this page links to one of the areas. You can also click on the green start arrow to enter the site.
While the sections do provide a sequential introduction and practical overview of Visible Thinking, it is also possible to skip from section to section. Exploration is encouraged.
Acknowledgments: The Visible Thinking project has had a large number of supporters over the past five years. We wish to acknowledge our funder Carpe Vitam, and the many collaborators and teachers who have supported this work..