Making MY Thinking visible

Making MY Thinking visible


by Evangelidou Foteini, Greece

Dr. Townsend Tony (2007) refers “there is no such thing as non – learner, there are people who learn things that are different (sometimes in contraction) to what teachers are teaching. Perhaps if we want to get to the heart of why some students are successful and others are not, it gets down to the ability to THINK.”According to this reference, thinking is what could make students develop their cognitive processes. But, sometimes it is really difficult for teachers to know what exactly children are thinking. It means that teachers should find ways so that the students would make their thinking visible. Using both the language of thinking (Tishman & Perkins, 1997) and thinking routines could really be very helpful for children’s thinking processes (Tishman & Palmer, 2005).

There are several thinking routines such as “SEE, THINK, WONDER”, “CONNECT – EXTEND – CHALLENGE”, “THINK, PUZZLE, EXPLORE”, etc (Ritchart & Perkins, 2008). Using the thinking routine “CONNECT – EXTEND – CHALLENGE”, I would like to make my own thinking visible. In that way, I could understand what this course (Foundation of Teaching for Learning 1: Introduction) has offered to me since now.

Connection is the first component of this routine and it is really interesting to find out what you thought you knew and what new you have learned. Personally, I thought that my previous knowledge about teaching and learning was in a relevant high level, as I was a “very good student” at university with really high marks. But, when I firstly taught children and when I started attending this course two weeks ago, I understood that there are plenty of things that I never heard about. Thinking routines and generally visible thinking is a theme that was totally unknown to me.

When I firstly heard in lectures about visible thinking, it made me wonder what exactly it is and I started seeking more information and examples from teachers, who tried to use thinking routines in their classrooms. The connection with my previous knowledge was found when I understood that somehow I have used thinking routines in the past, without knowing it. For example, I was always asking my students to tell what they have in their mind and what they feel and know about a theme. Of course, I did not use the strategies absolutely in the right way, but I was always trying to understand my students’ thinking and how this affects their learning.

Furthermore, extension is the second component of the specific thinking routine, which I use in this essay. After my new knowledge about visible thinking and thinking routines, I started to think how I could extend it and how I could use it in practice. What I did was trying the thinking routine “SEE, THINK, WONDER” with my students.

Specifically, I showed to them the following picture, which is located in their Environmental Studies book and is taken from a recycling factory. Χωρίς τίτλο

Firstly, I asked children what they see. Some answers referred to people who are working in a place and they dealt with junk things.

Then, I asked what they think where this picture is taken from and what these people are doing. There were several answers such as “This is a recycling factory”, “These people collect junk things and they recycle them”, “This is a recycling factory”, etc.

Finally, I asked children to express their feelings and wonder about the image and what it shows. Most of the children answered that, nowadays, there are many environmental problems and people should recycle their trash in order to protect the nature and the environment.

With this “experiment” and in association with the new things that I have learned from lectures and from the papers that I had read, I extended my knowledge about thinking routines and how helpful they could be for students to power up their thinking, to build new knowledge and to become self-directed learners (Project Zero, 2010).

The third component of “CONNECT – EXTEND – CHALLENGE” is challenging. Generally, there are many challenges in teaching and learning processes. After being informed about and trying visible thinking, I am still facing some challenges about their usage. For example, I would like to try all of the thinking routines to my students and I would also like to be in the position of student who is directed trough thinking routines to express my thoughts and to understand what I could learn in personal through my own thinking. The artful thinking (Barahal, 2008) is also a strategy that I would like to try both as a teacher and as a learner.

In my role as a teacher I have faced and I will face many different situations not only with my students but also with my own personality. I want to become better and better so that I can help my students to develop themselves. Thinking and especially critically thinking is a way for everyone to “open a window” in deep and useful knowledge and behavior. I used to think many different aspects of teaching and learning, but now I think that thinking about thinking could be the key for a great relationship between teaching and learning, between teachers and students!


  • Barahal, S. L. (2008). Thinking about thinking. Preservice Teachers Strengthen their Thinking Artfully, Phi Delta Kappan, 90 (4), 298 – 902.
  • Dr. Townsend, T. (2007). Engaging Students in the Global Classroom: Teachers “leading the learning”. International Council on Education of Teaching Conference. San Diego, California.
  • Project Zero. (2010). Research Projects: Visible Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education.
  • Ritchart, R. & Perkins, D. (2008). Making Thinking Visible. Educational Leadership, Teaching Students to think, 65 (5), 57-61.
  • Tishman, S. & Palmer, P. (2005). Visible Thinking. In Leadership Compass. Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
  • Tishman, S. & Perkins, D.N. (1997). The Language of Thinking. Phi Delta Kappan, 78 (5), 368-374.




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