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.

Mason, Ariella


Semrud-Clikeman, M. (n.d.). Research in Brain and Learning. Retrieved February 11, 2018 from

I liked this resource from the American Psychology Association because it covers a lot of areas, such as different ages or grade levels. It focuses on how the brain functions and how we learn. It also included helpful hints for teachers in the “Do’s and Don’ts” section.

I would recommend this resource because it helps a teacher better understand what is happening in student’s brains as they develop. Knowing how a student thinks and learns can better help a teacher adjust how they teach to how the student learns, therefore making an effective learning environment.

Seven Surprising Benefits of Maker Spaces

Brandt, Alisa

Barron, C., & Barron, A. (2016, August 2). Seven surprising benefits of maker
    spaces [Blog post]. Retrieved from School Library Journal website:

ET – Maker Spaces

IL – Motivation

This article reveals the seven physical and psychological benefits of maker spaces in libraries beyond meeting curriculum standards.
Focusing on making brings people into the present moment giving them a break from focusing on the past or future too much. Making is physical and gets people moving, stretching, and standing, which gets blood flowing. Making is dependent upon self-directed engagement and gives people motivation to complete a task rather than having to do a required task. This means that people are learning what interests them and leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. Making uses hand-based activities which gives people a deeper connection to their brain and the development of skills such as visual thinking and problem solving. Making improves mood, giving people a boost of happiness. Maker spaces in libraries create a sense of community and connection which can prevent loneliness. Making “prevents the habit of wastefulness” by salvaging old materials and creating something new (Barron & Barron, 2016).

Evaluation: We are all familiar with the ways that makerspaces in schools enhance student learning and help to meet curriculum standards. It is also helpful to understand the ways in which making, whether it is simple or complex, provides so many mental and physical benefits to makers. In a time when people are increasingly disconnected from others and from the physical and mental processes that keep humans healthy, making provides an opportunity to gain some of this back.