Friday, August 5, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapters 7 & 8

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Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 7 & 8

Welcome to the final post about Making Thinking Visible (MTV).  This book has been good for me to read this summer because it has made me reflect on my personal practice and how I encourage students to think deeper about the concepts we are learning.  If I say I value thinking skills, then I need to follow that up with specific actions that illustrate my values.  

Most of the statements below are quotes from the book.  Any of my own comments follow in italics.

  • "...[F]or any thinking routine to take hold and be a vehicle for promoting the development of students as thinkers and learners, something more than just having a go and trying out the routines is required."
    • I think this is a key element.  If I want students to develop as thinkers, I have to choose routines with intention and do more than just "try all the things".  I need to carefully think through the routine, practice it on my own, and anticipate student responses and my reactions.
  • "Any time a group of people come together where learning and intellectual growth are identified as part of the group's mission, there is the opportunity to create a culture of thinking."
  • "...[W]ithout the benefit of others, our thinking would be severely curtailed.  Our individual thinking benefits from being challenged."
    • I definitely agree and find this in my own life with the #EduRead chats and the #MTBoS in general.  I have grown so much as a teacher and learner because of the people that are willing to think things out with me and ask me to expand on and justify my thinking.
  • "If we want to promote a culture of thinking, we must surround students with thinking..."
    • I teach mostly seniors, and by that age, they are really good at the "game of school".  I worry that many students graduate because they won the game rather than actually learned and developed as thinkers.  I need to surround students with thinking at all times.  I need to make my classroom a place where students know they will be asked to think, justify, and explain their thinking.
  • "Too often thinking has been seen as the exclusive domain of gifted or advanced students."
    • This one hit me in the gut, to be honest.  I was labeled as gifted/advanced and having read things on Mindset over the past few years, recognize myself in many of the descriptions of  fixed mindset.  I was so afraid of being wrong and I think many of my students feel this way as well.  We need to celebrate thinking (and mistake-making) from ALL students!
  • "Ultimately, it is what the learners are asked to do with the content that makes it a rich opportunity for learning."
  • "..[T]o achieve insight and understanding, one must have the time to think about and with ideas."
    • This is so me!  Good thinking and learning requires time to process the ideas.  I easily get overwhelmed with new ideas running at me that I need to stop, go to my quiet place and process the ideas.  I love the idea from Dan Meyer's talks to talk over new ideas with a person or with your notebook.  I need to use that more with my own students.
  • "Imagine a trip to school after hours:  no students or teachers around.  How much could you discern about the learning and thinking that goes on there just by walking the hallways and stepping into classrooms?"
    • Powerful!  If someone were to go to my room after hours, what would they see?  What would I hope they see?  Would they see walls filled with student thinking?  Would they notice the desks arranged to facilitate group discussion?  Would my values shine through?  I might even ask my students this on day 1... look around the classroom, based on what you see, what are your impressions of what Mrs. ___ values about teaching and learning?
  • Common pitfalls and issues - A few issues that the authors mentioned were:
    • Importance of having a network (PLC) to debrief so you don't give up prematurely or because "it didn't work"
    • Sticky note mania - sticky notes are great for capturing learning, but the walls fill up.  Be careful of overload.
    • Routine of the day - TRY ALL THE THINGS! :)  Be intentional when choosing routines that fit your content and classroom.

Whew!  MTV is DONE! :)  

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