Can librarians help make “thinking” visible to students?

Summary: Ron Ritchart of Project Zero at Harvard University along with Church & Morrison are pushing the envelope on how students experience the act of thinking (2011). Drawing from Understanding by Design, (Wiggins, 2005) and yet going in a slightly different direction, the authors of Making Thinking Visible argue that teachers don’t often understand what they mean when they describe how a lesson made students “think” (2011). For these authors, “making thinking visible,” is an important strategy for being deep and specific about what we mean when we ask students to “think.” Using engaging and innovative strategies for creating environments for thinking (implementing “thinking routines”), can help students to gain understanding on a deeper and more cognitively informed level. Thinking begins by asking open-ended questions that are authentic and which also interest the teacher–questions that the teacher or teacher-librarian does not necessarily know the answer to (2011, pp. 50).


Opinion: A lot of these strategies and practices are already implicit in constructivist classrooms, which involve a lot of pondering and reflecting. That said, this book did make me pause and re-think teaching and learning. It did so because it really slows down the idea of thinking, and tried to value the process of thinking itself over the usual learning targets and goals (which even in constructivist environments educators can get carried away by). While at first glance this book might seem only relevant to teachers, it can also impact the way teacher-librarians consider using technology for the benefit of students. Can we help student visualize how they think? Perhaps you should read this book and find out. I’d definitely recommend.

Ritchart, R. Church, M. & Morrison, K. (2011). Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engaement, Understanding, and Independence for all Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wiggins, Jay., Grant P. McTighe, and McTighe, Jay. Understanding by Design. Expanded 2nd ed. 2005. Web.

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