I have written about the concept of Making Thinking Visible many times. However, it just keeps popping up in current literature about classroom strategies and in my own (virtual) classroom as my students explore the concept of collaborative inquiry. I am curious about the focus on K-12 students in relation to making thinking visible, when I find that the skills and activities necessary to actually make out thinking visible are highly relevant even in tertiary education and with educators themselves when trying to work together in a collaborative inquiry project.
The video linked below highlights some basic concepts of the notion of creating a culture of thinking. Oddly, one key element of this is knowing when to think. This might not be as odd as it sounds. I have found that we are often very good at teaching others what to do, but not so good as doing these very same things ourselves. A case in point is the writing circle that I participate in. I like to think that I give insightful feedback and pointers to my circle members, but then when it is my turn to receive feedback, they are giving me much the same pointers. Be clear! Remove unneeded text! Separate your sections more clearly!
It is interesting to see, for example, just how much group work and team work is stressed in the tertiary classrooms in which I spend much of my time, but then find that the instructors do not spend much time themselves acting on team work or participating in groups.
These strategies are not for our students to test out, learn and then move on from. Once we learn to make our thinking visible, we should not then stop doing so. A common complaint I hear from faculty is that students don't read. Actually, in many cases they do, but they still don't 'get' everything. I know my students read, and then go into the discussion board to explain why they didn't understand what they just read. Or, they explain what they read, but miss key points.
I recently watched a video about a class in which the students critique each other in order to create better work. The video in that article is quite powerful. Again, these strategies are being used with K-12 students, but I find that at the tertiary level, we have the same issues and the same needs. Look at the difference in the two images below.
This is where the collaborative part comes in. In a community of inquiry, the other community members are there to help us understand, fill in missing parts and get on with the business of learning and then doing.