Looking at Students' Conceptual Development in the Truth Ideal

Throughout the Truth Module you have been paying attention to students' thinking and noticing how it develops. Not only have their skills been improving, so has their general conception of truth and what it involves. Now, as you draw the module to a close, it's good to help students review their journey and consolidate their understandings. It's also valuable to assess how students' conceptions have developed. It tells you what you and they have accomplished, offers insights on how to do even better next time, and provides evidence for justifying your good work to others.

Closing Activities

While the issue of truth is always going to be present in classrooms, you may want to conclude the Truth Module with the opportunity with students reflecting on the topic and what they have learned. Some strategies for doing this include the following. The first is especially valuable, because it provides a before-after comparison.

  • Students complete a concept map of truth as they did at the beginning. Once they have sketched their new maps, you can hand back their earlier maps and ask them to write or talk about how their ideas about truth and evidence have changed.
  • Students write a letter of advice to a younger child explaining how one might approach puzzles of truth. The letter should offer practical advice that the reader can use in a range of future situations.
  • Students make a visual representation of truth and write about it, explaining the various aspects of their visual metaphor.
  • Students write a story of truth that highlights a particular problem related to truth and how it was resolved.

Assessing Conceptual Change

Looking at students' pre and post-concept maps can be very useful in assessing student growth and change. As you examine students' maps, you may find it helpful to look for the following:

  • What new strategies for dealing with questions of truth do students list? Have they incorporated the key thinking moves from the Truth Map? Are they using their own language for these moves? Are they elaborating upon them?
  • Do students show a greater awareness of the complexity of grounding truth in evidence? Do students show a sensitivity to the role of context, culture, and values?
  • How have students' questions about truth changed?
  • Are students' responses more elaborated, fleshed out, and/or connected to other parts of their thinking?

Here are three examples of students' concept maps with commentary that might be useful in thinking about conceptual development.

When it's done, it's not over!

So you've completed the Truth Module. Perhaps you're moving on to another Visible Thinking module. However, this does not mean that truth is out of the picture from now on. You will want to keep the theme of truth alive.

This is easy to do in a couple of ways. First of all, just keep using the truth routines from time to time to deepen students' content learning, wherever they fit. if you are working on another module, weave them in occasionally.

Second, many routines are cross-cutting: They show up in more than one module because they are helpful with more than one ideal. You can point out when this happens.

In general, Visible Thinking looks toward a culture of thinking in the classroom. This means that themes of truth, creativity, understanding, fairness and more are generally in the air, and often engaged through appropriate routines.