From Making Thinking Visible – by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, Karin Morrison
In many classrooms students may be more focused on work and activity than understanding. They may be doing more learning about the subject than learning to do the subject.
To develop understanding of a subject area, one has to engage in authentic intellectual activity. That means solving problems, making decisions, and developing new understanding using the methods and tools of the discipline. We need to be aware of the kinds of thinking that are important for scientists (making and testing hypotheses, observing closely, building explanations …. Mathematics – looking for patterns, making conjectures, forming generalizations, constructing arguments . . . readers – making interpretations, connections, predictions . . . historians – considering different perspectives, reasoning with evidence, building explanations . . )
Make these kinds of thinking the center of the opportunities we create for students.
The kinds of thinking that are essential to understanding – those integral to understanding
- Observing closely and describing what’s there (classifying extends our description)
- Building explanations and interpretations (inferring, explaining, predicting)
- Reasoning with evidence
- Making connections – (comparing and contrasting is a specific type of connection making)
- Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
- Capturing the heart ( the core of the concept, procedure, event or work ensures we understand its essence) and forming conclusions
- Wondering and asking questions
- Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things.
Kinds of thinking useful in the area of problem solving, decision making, and forming judgments:
- Identifying patterns, and making generalizations
- Generating possibilities and alternatives
- Evaluating evidence, arguments and actions
- Formulating plans and monitoring actions
- Identifying claims, assumptions and bias
- Clarifying priorities, conditions and what is known
The five basic thinking questions . . .
#1. What do you think?
This question interrupts us from telling too much. There is a place for direct instruction where we give students information yet we need to always strive to balance this with plenty of opportunities for students to make sense of and apply that new information using their schemata and understanding.
#2. Why do you think that?
After students share what they think, this follow-up question pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.
#3. How do you know this?
When this question is asked, students can make connections to their ideas and thoughts with things they’ve experienced, read, and have seen.
#4. Can you tell me more?
This question can inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.
#5. What questions do you still have?
This allows students to offer up questions they have about the information, ideas or the evidence.