Visible Thinking Pt. 2

Chapter 2 - Putting Thinking at the Center of the Educational Enterprise

  • I like their generalization about how policy makers tend to think that by changing curriculum, teachers will teach the content and the system will improve.  This view tends to think that the what in curriculum teaching is more important than the how.  Delimits the role of the teacher and makes our job look bad.

  • The distinction between teaching and learning here is wonderful.  Good teachers focus on learning, while ineffetive teachers focus on teaching.  I have always said that I don't think teaching is a real thing.  It is a word we made up to fit a role.  Learning on the other hand, is what it is all about.  Maybe we should change the name of the profession from Teachers to Learning Specialists?

  • Much of this chapter is about what I would call Mindful Awareness (look up Randa Khattar at the University of Toronto for some fascinating work in this idea).  Paying attention to learning that is happening and then continuing to challenge and push it forward.  As Brent Davis says, Teaching is making the familiar strange. You cannot do that if you are not paying attention.

  • Just realized I have a DVD with this book, but I don't have a DVD player.... ;(

  • Pg 28; restructure thinking; there are those mechanistic metaphors again....

  • The naming and noticing of the process is so important.  I find the same goes with skills in writing, math, reading, etc.  By making what skill we are working explicit (transitions in paragraphs, or punctuation and capital letters) the kids are able to notice what they are doing and pay attention to the specific skill.  The problem I have sometimes, and this is not criticism of the book but of myself, is that I sometimes get too focused on the details and I wonder how to harmonize that with also focusing on the bigger picture?

  • I teach reading with the 7 keys to comprehension, and in that book Susan Zimmerman talks about the important of modeling your reading.  VT also talks about the importance of modeling, and I agree.  Modeling is important, no doubt, but sometimes I wonder if that takes up too much of the instruction?  When is modeling too much, and when do we have students start doing it, rather than watching it being done?  I tend to think that the doing is more important and should be introduced as soon as possible.....

  • I like the Guess what the teacher is thinking part!  I have written about that here before.  Evaluative listening, interpretive listening, and hermeneutic listening.

  • I judge my kids not by the answers they give, but by the questions they ask, pg 32.  Great!  What is report cards were based solely on this type of thinking?

  • Nice distinction for the guideposts and goal posts, pg.33.  I tend to see curriculum as the fencing that surrounds our area, keeps us out of other places, but allows us ample room to explore.  Still, anytime you set up a fence, there are those whose first instinct is to break it down (guilty).

  • What makes you say that?  pg. 34.  I never considered how powerful this question is.  I am going to have to try and start using it more often.

  • Making the student an Active agent in the construction of their own knowledge; not only the construction, but the revisiting and (if we are continuing with the house building metaphors) the repairs from incoming damage.  See, these mechanical/construction metaphors just feel weak to me.  Man-made buildings and machines eventually turn to dust.  Evolution and the organic process of life are forever.  I would say, making the student an active agent in the evolution of their own knowledge.  This implies that the knowledge will change, and the learner will have to adapt.  Learning, Teaching and Knowing are evolving forms that involve ongoing exploration, and integration of new images  metaphors, and applications (Brent Davis).  I'm off topic. Back to the book.

  • Documenting.... ah documenting!  If anybody has any good advice on how to do this, please tell me.  I am not good at it.  I write comments in their books and I use that as a assessment data.  I have toyed with Evernote, but I never stick with it.  As I write this, I am thinking that narrative might be the best way to go for me..... how can I write the story of their growth in a narrative assessment, like a google doc story?  How would this help me?  I will play with this idea....

  • Lastly, I love the last paragraph on pg 38.  The collective access to brainstorming and knowledge is something that I investigating in my M.Ed research project


I must say I am fully impressed with the philosophy side of this book.  I am very much looking forward to jumping into the routines and seeing how my kids react to them.  I have a gut feeling that this book will be a practical methodology to the way I think.... but I am not getting ahead of myself yet.

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