Introduction and Overview

Visible Thinking is dedicated to helping students develop into better thinkers. To think well in day-to-day life, students must develop patterns of thinking in which their ability is combined with their inclination to think well and their awareness of thinking opportunities. Students must have not only the ability to think, but also the disposition to think.

In seeking to develop thinking dispositions, Visible Thinking takes an enculturative approach, meaning that we believe students’ dispositional development occurs best within a cultural context in which:

  • Thinking is valued
  • There is time for thinking
  • Rich opportunities for thinking abound
  • Thinking is regularly modeled
  • The process as well as the products of thinking are present in the environment

Such an environment sends the message that thinking is valued. In addition, it not only provides a time and place for the practice of students’ skills but also provides the leverage needed to foster an inclination toward thinking and to develop a greater awareness of thinking occasions. Immersed in a classroom culture of thinking, students have the opportunity to develop patterns of behavior and thinking that become our habits.

The tools and resources in this section are designed to help teachers collectively focus on the implicit messages about thinking being sent in classrooms and across the school. Specifically, you will find:

Study Group Materials that support school-wide learning.  These protocols for looking at student work and tools for reflection focus attention on thinking and help to support teachers in their ongoing efforts with Visible Thinking. These protocols help teachers to look closely at students’ thinking and to think about creating rich opportunities for thinking. In addition, you will find tips and suggestions for forming and facilitating study groups.

Institutional Structures and Support for making Visible Thinking a school-wide practice and developing a culture of thinking at the school.  These supports are suggestions of ways to help advance the work of Visible Thinking and ensure that it will take hold in such a way that a school-wide culture of thinking is developed.

Tools for Assessing a Culture of Thinking These tools provide a structure for reflecting on both individual and school-wide practices to uncover the implicit messages being sent to students.