Mona Voelkel

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Book Review: “The Power of Making Thinking Visible” by Ron Ritchart and Mark Church

What is powerful about “The Power of Making Thinking Visible”?

Ron Ritchart’s and Mark Church’s new book, “The Power of Making Thinking Visible” builds on the excellent foundation of the original, “Making Thinking Visible.”

It adds 18 new thinking routines to the MTV (Making Thinking Visible) toolbox.  It thoughtfully frames those routines as one of four classroom practices that deepen student understanding, along with questioning, listening and documentation.

It lets us know that if deepening student understanding is the main goal of our instruction, that deeper learning is at the intersection of mastery, identity and understanding.  For example, it’s not enough for a student to learn how to read.  To be a true reader, a student must see themselves as a reader and to initiate personal reading journeys.  

It also shares and explains the “6 Powers of Making Thinking Visible”:

-Foster deep learning

-Cultivate cognitively engaged students

-Change the role of students and teachers

-Enhance formative learning

-Improve learning (even as measured by standardized tests)

-Develop thinking dispositions (Observing, Wondering, Making Connections, Exploring Viewpoints, Building Explanations and Interpretations, Reasoning with Evidence, Uncovering Complexity and Going Deeper, Capturing the heart and Forming Conclusions.

If you want to be a better teacher for students that are striving to improve thinking skills, you first need to be mindful of the type of thinking that student needs to master and choose a routine that addresses that thinking disposition.  Based on the original book, Project Zero has a matrix of thinking routines connected to a range of thinking dispositions:

Over time, the results of regularly having students engage in thoughtfully selected routines, with teacher monitoring and scaffolding considerations, will be profound. Students appreciate these routines that ask them to be active and thoughtful learners as they deepen their understanding. Cognitively, the

To really understand this book, I suggest that you read and engage with the original, “Making Thinking Visible” book and thinking routines.  For those of you already familiar with those routines, I know you will read and explore these new routines with a sense of excitement as you look for a routine that supports your teaching goals.

My goal was to find a new routine that would help me to deeply understand the book, “The Power of Making Thinking Visual” and, after careful consideration, I chose the “Peeling the Fruit” Routine. (I found this on the web and really like the layout: ). 

I started by jotting down what felt “important” as I read the book in the space outside the orange.  Then, after I finished reading the book, I took time to reflect and build explanations about what this book is about, make connections and consider other viewpoints.  Lastly, I thought deeply to conside what I thought to be the heart of this book, “Be a student of your student and also of your curriculum so you can facilitate the teaching and learning moves that lead to deep learning.”

Engaging the “Peeling the Fruit” routine facilitated a deeper understanding of this book than if I hadn’t engaged with this routine.  It also allowed me to document my thinking for myself and for you in a way that we can return to again and again, if desired.  Engaging in this thinking routine also allowed me to have access to a range of ideas that were available to me as I crafted this blog.  Let me know if you decide to deepen your understanding of Making Thinking Visible!  I have found it to be a meaningful and joyful journey of understanding.

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