This is a very useful, very practical visible thinking routine. I have adapted the routine for students in the earlier stages of thought, who perhaps need more support when moving from concrete to abstract concepts.
How does this routine work?
Originally, this routine was put to use when analyzing art or film. A teacher or instructor shows the students a painting, for example, and asks, "What do you see?" Then, as students respond with what they see, the teacher records their responses. The teacher also makes sure to correct students if they give any interpretations of the painting, as that will come later. For example, students should be stating, "I see..." and simply saying what they see, not what they *think* is happening in the painting.
Then, the teacher will instruct the students to look at the painting again and will ask them, "What do you think?" At this point, the students can begin sharing what they *think* about what they *see*. All the students' responses are recorded. Thus, the teacher is extracting more profound thoughts at a higher order of thinking and is bringing students from concrete to abstract levels.
Once again, the teacher will instruct the students to observe the painting. Then, he will ask, "What do you wonder?" At this point in the exercise, the students will begin to respond with "I wonder..." statements, forming questions in statement form. "I wonder why the artist chose to use that color..." or "I wonder what made the artist want to paint this..." etc. These types of wonderings are evidence of higher order thinking, as the students have had to observe, register their observations, make interpretations, inferences, and evaluations, and finally create more open-ended analyses.
That was one example of thousands. This visible thinking routine works well when the students' answers are recorded and their thinking is "made visible" because, in this way, they are able to make the connection between what is seen (concrete) and what is not seen (abstract). I have used this routine with my first graders in at least three dozen different types of activities, from book covers to the clouds in the sky; from a nature walk to a new classroom layout of furniture. Most of the time, I write my students' responses in a visible format; however, there have been many times when I simply go through the motions of this visible thinking routine and the students still gain valuable insight into whatever subject we are analyzing.
These posters are easy to print, laminate, and keep with you in an easily reachable stack of teacher tools. You can hold them up (they are size A4, or regular computer paper) and use them as visual cues for how the routine works.