6 Reasons to use visible thinking after research

I have recently been asked to step back into the classroom for 4 weeks to guide a group of 5th graders through the PYP exhibition, and I’m loving it! We have four (and that’s just my class) inquiries running alongside each other, looking at advancements in medical, educational and transport technology, and the influence of robots on well being. All through the transdisciplinary theme of where we are in place and time. When I joined the class the kids were laden with fact upon facts, they were all over the classroom. So one of the first things I did was to check for their understanding of the guiding questions using the GENERATE / SORT / CONNECT / ELABORATE thinking routine. Here are 6 reasons why I did that:

  • Evaluate the spectrum of understanding – can they piece facts together to get to the heart of the question? Can they identify concepts?
  • Evaluate spectrum of critical thinking (analysis / synthesis) – can they identify relationships, patterns, expand and extend upon their ideas?
  • Create opportunities to elaborate – this thinking routine is designed for it!
  • Create opportunities to collaborate – activate learners as resources for one another, promote learning appreciation.
  • Slows down the learning – Time and space to think deeply and process; thinking is valued.
  • Creates context for further reflection – learners can benefit by reflecting on what they don’t understand yet, or what puzzles them.

Used in the context of “sorting out” what this routine showed me was; the difference between knowledge and understanding; the difference between higher level thinking and repeating the same fact in different ways; the difference between collaboration and cooperation, and finally. What I need to do next!

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A continuum for reflection

The creation of this model was inspired partly by reading some of David Perkins work on developing mindfulness and, partly by the desire to help me nurture reflection more effectively with my students (majority ESL learners). I believe reflection is the foundation of all incremental learning, as John Dewey once stated, “we do not learn by experience, but by reflecting on experience” . As a PYP teacher I am in the fortunate position to be able to devote ample time to developing reflection, as it is a philosophical cornerstone of the programme and constructivist learning. This model is definitely a work in progress, I will continue to refine it based on my own reflections, ideas and practices in the classroom. Please let me know if you use it, any feedback very welcome.