This book caught my attention since its very beginning. It begins explaining that in English language there are about a quarter million distinct words, however native speakers (certainly not me) use merely around 7000 words that account for 90% of the day to day usage. How does the word THINK rank in terms of frequency of use? Apparently, it ranks at position 126 to 135. It obviously plays an important role in our speech and writing, but what does it actually MEAN? What are you doing when you are THINKING?
When I ask my students to THINK, do they know what I really expect them to do? Making thinking visible is the way of understanding the thinking processes and pathways to ourselves. The way to understanding, the way to learn.
I loved the question that initiates chapter two: HOW DOES ONE LEARN TO TEACH WELL? The authors propose that teaching well is more about the ways that contents are delivered rather than delivering the prescribed curriculum (pretty obvious statement), but CAREFUL, it is not only about METHODS to deliver the contents. Because this puts the student in a passive role. And Who owns the Learning?
Making thinking visible is about catching what students are understanding, but also HOW they are understanding. Not attending to the thinking of the students will only lead to superfical learning and many misconceptions, found even at students with high gradings.
Questioning (honest questions to which we don´t have really an answer, not just rethoric or “check knowledge questions”), listening, facilitating and clarifying thinking, all part of the huge context that will allow us to understand how are students are thinking, and promote deeper understanding.
And now what I liked most, an incredible simple but so meaningful and revealing questions: WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT? My magic question.
Use this question instead of responding straightforward to a student´s comment or answer. Say it showing real interest. I will definitely try it in my classes and I´m trying to find the perfect translation into spanish: “qué te llevó a decir eso?” or “qué te lleva a decir eso?” Which is very different from “why do you say that” (por qué lo decís?)
I hereby attach -as usual- my newest sketchnote with a short summary of those VTR (Visible Thinking Routine) techniques that grabbed my attention. The books presents many, but while I was reading, for those recorded on the sketchnote, I had immediate application ideas in my own classroom. Of course, I will let you know in my coming blogposts how it worked out!
What I loved is that each methods explains the purpose, how to set up the method, some tips for success and -most important- examples of application from real life, by real teachers. Entertaining and smooth reading and lots and lots of ideas. I think I would like to have this book in my personal library, it is an almost every-day material to go back and get new ideas.