During the teacher professional development days on Monday and Tuesday, teachers engaged in a two hour workshop on Visible Thinking. This is a Harvard initiative called Project Zero that enables teachers to build thinking dispositions in their students. Nelson Goodman founded the program at Harvard in 1967. David Perkins, Howard Gardener (Multiple intelligences), Ron Howard and Shari Tishman, Daniel Wilson and Mark Church are other names involved in this initiative. When planning ‘learning experiences’, teachers link the objectives to thinking moves they want their student to make. Then teachers (sometimes in collaboration with students) find a routine that will promote the thinking move. As students become more familiar with the thinking moves and routines, the hope is that they start using them automatically in order to access deep thinking.. Here is the link to the Project Zero website for more information.
Our Visible Thinking Journey at AISL
Our journey here at AISL with Visible Thinking began in 2010 when the then director Chris Muller agreed to two teachers attending an institute at Harvard. This was instigated by one of the teachers Laura Manni who had completed a masters at Cambridge in the ‘art of questions’. She was particularly interested in the more thoughtful question or routinely asked question the researchers at Harvard were promoting. Instead of asking students ‘why?’ they were asking students ‘what makes you say that?’ This small change solicits deeper thinking and responses.
So, Susan Lacy, the DP Literature teacher and Laura Manni, the Preschool teacher spent two weeks at Harvard and came back to immediately put into practice what they had learnt. They reached out to other teachers on their return and fortunately we are a school of early adopters! Teachers observed lessons to see how Laura and Susan were using the routines and began to adopt and adapt them for themselves
AISL in the spirit of making sure that we continue to support good pedagogical practice sent three teachers in 2011 to London to a Visible Thinking conference where they heard some educational greats including David Perkins and Howard Gardener. They came back to AISL enthused and shared enthusiastically with their colleagues what they had learnt. We have had 4 whole, part school trainings with Mark Church and other researchers. Our own teachers have led a number of Visible Thinking workshops representing the school at the ISAZ International Schools Association of Zambia) conference, AISA (The Association of International Schools in Africa) twice, in Amsterdam at a CASIE conference (Routines in the Language and Literature classroom), in Ghana on behalf of AISA at Lincoln community school (An introduction to Visible Thinking) at a two day institute there. We have also had an article published in the AISA magazine on Visible Thinking. Teachers have twice been involved in Professional book clubs to study Making Thinking Visible and The 8 Cultural Forces of a Thinking Classroom. As you can see we are enormously committed here at AISL to improving the learning of our students. We are hoping to start another book club soon using the latest book about Visible Thinking: The Power of Visible Thinking.
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