At TASIS, we utilize a curriculum rich in content. Simply put, our students learn a lot about a lot of things...things we believe educated people should know. However, we don't want our students learning simply by memorizing facts or algorithms.
Our job is to help students to build the habits that lead to becoming strong communicators, readers, writers, and mathematicians–good thinkers. Like most other skills, thinking is improved through practice. Eventually practice becomes habit. When students continually reflect on the ways they think and why, a process called meta cognition, they become more rational, logical, and thoughtful.
Usually, the processes of thinking are invisible to students. At TASIS, we aim to make this thinking visible, memorable, and applicable. The development of "thinking routines" and the strategies used to clearly identify problems, consider alternate ideas and solutions, and then creatively solve problems is essential to creating deep thinkers. This is what Harvard Project Zero, the creators of Visible Thinking, designed to enrich and enhance student learning.
What does that look like in our school? Visible Thinking has two main themes: 1. create better thinkers, and 2. make those strategies visible for students, teachers, and others to see.
After all, everyone can have an opinion; however, some are based on more rigorous thought processes, more data, and more creativity. Our goal is to teach students to reflect on and understand their own thinking in ways that allow them to discover how they learn, and to be better situated to show what they know to the world.
To be clear, Visible Thinking is not about thinking alone, but about collaborative processes of thinking together. For it is by sharing our thoughts and opinions and taking in the thoughts and opinions of others that help us to refine our thinking, examine our biases, and improve our communication skills. School is the perfect setting for this!
Visible Thinking in Action
Visible Thinking provides structured routines that allow TASIS teachers to embed cognitive skills into the content-rich lessons from Core Knowledge and Singapore Math. Some of the key goals of a Visible Thinking approach include:
· Deeper understanding of content
· Greater motivation for learning
· Development of learners' thinking and learning abilities
· Development of learners' attitudes toward thinking and learning (growth mindset)
· A school culture of engaged thinkers and learners
I Used to Think...Now I Think is one of the core routines from Visible Thinking. This routine helps students reflect on how and why their initial thoughts, opinions, or beliefs about a topic have changed as a result of instruction or experience. The I Used to Think...Now I Think routine helps students consolidate new learning, develop their reasoning abilities, and recognize cause-and-effect relationships.
The future is becoming increasingly uncertain. Solving its problems will require a knowledge of history and the problems of the past; but even more importantly, it will require new solutions based on deep and collaborative thinking. Our job at TASIS is to grow these kinds of thinkers.